Emmeline Pankhurst Statue on Podium Victoria Tower GardensHST6046: Sex and Power: The Politics of Women's Liberation in Modern Britain

15 credits (Semester 2017-18: Autumn)

Module Leader: Dr Julie Gottlieb

'With the centenary of women's suffrage approaching in 2018, this is a good time to reflect on the achievements, failures, and changing priorities of the broad movement for women's political emancipation in Britain. This module examines the integration of women and the evolving themes and demands of the women´s movement in the political sphere in Britain from the heyday of the suffrage movement up to the reign of Britain's first female PM, Margaret Thatcher. It focuses on both women's wide-ranging attempts and their more limited achievements to gain entry into the political establishment, at the local, national and international levels. Topics will include women's suffrage agitation; the aftermath of suffrage; inter-war feminism; feminist internationalism; studies of women politicians; Second Wave Feminism; and gendered readings of British political history.' Dr Julie Gottlieb

 

Module Summary

This module examines the integration of women and the evolving themes and demands of the women´s movement in the political sphere in Britain from the heyday of the suffrage movement up to the reign of Britain's first female PM, Margaret Thatcher. We will focus on both women's wide-ranging attempts and their more limited achievements to gain entry into the political establishment, at the local, national and international levels. Topics will include women's suffrage agitation; the aftermath of suffrage; inter-war feminism; feminist internationalism; studies of women politicians; Second Wave Feminism; and gendered readings of British political history.


Module aims

This module aims to explore an exciting and expanding field of research on women in British political history, and the gendering of British political relationships and institutions. While you will be introduced to feminist perspectives and political thought, you will be encouraged to assess feminist ideas and endeavours historically and critically. In this module we will be examining the evidence that suggest the need for an understanding of women's achievements in the political sphere as cyclical rather than linear, and heterogeneous as determined by differences of class, generation, sexuality, race and ethnicity, and region. The module aims to offer you expert guidance in the exploration of source-based problems as well as a forum for the exchange of informed views over issues which have generated scholarly debate.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, you should be able to demonstrate:

  1. A more profound understanding of women’s movements, women’s political history, and the gendering of political institutions and relationship in Britain in the 20th century;
  2. The ability to distinguish between and critically evaluate different schools of interpretation and historical debate on women’s political history in the modern Britain, attaining an awareness of current research issues beyond the published literature;
  3. The ability to elaborate and defend an intellectual position to other members of the seminar group as well as presenting scholarly arguments and historiographical debate to them;
  4. A more profound understanding of the scope and nature of the relevant primary material, and the interpretive tools needed to analyse these;
  5. An awareness of the contribution made by other academic disciplines - women’s studies, political science, sociology - to our understanding of women’s history;
  6. An ability to engage in group discussions of interpretive issues.

Teaching

Learning hours
Seminar hours Tutorial hours Independent Learning
10 1 139

The module will be taught in five, two-hour classes. Each will focus on important junctures and the relevant historiographical and methodological debates in the history of women's entry into the male-defined political sphere. Topics therefore include the suffrage movement; the aftermath of suffrage; women and internationalism; 'woman power' in the Second World War; the return to domesticity and its critics; gendering the welfare state; Second Wave Feminism and its political demands; and the anti-feminist politics of Britain's first female PM, Margaret Thatcher. Such topics will also be located in the historical literature, considered from perspectives of political history, feminist agendas, and gender history. Classes will enable you to share knowledge, debate controversial issues and listen and respond to the views of others in a structured environment. You will, in addition, have individual tutorial contact with the module leader in order to discuss your written work for this module.

 

Assessment

Assessment methods
Assessment % of final mark Length
Coursework 100% 3000 words

You will prepare a short paper (no more than 3000 words) which demonstrates an ability to handle bibliographical resources and which explores one of the key themes raised by an in-depth study of a particular topic in modern British women's history.

 

Selected reading

  • Esther Breitenbach and Pat Thane (eds.), Women and Citizenship in Britain and Ireland in the Twentieth Century: What Difference Did the Vote Make? (2010)
  • Krista Cowman, Women in British Politics c. 1689-1979 (2010)
  • J. Gottlieb and R. Toye (eds.), The Aftermath of Suffrage: Women, Gender, and Politics in Britain 1918-1945 (2013)
  • Helen Jones, Women in British Public Life, 1914-1950 (2000)
  • Martin Pugh, Women and the Women’s Movement in Britain, 1914-1999 (second edition, 2000)
  • June Purvis (ed.) Women’s History: Britain, 1850-1945 (1995)

 

 

 

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