All sessions will last 1 hour and 15 minutes. Most involve a whole-group activity/talk as well as work in smaller groups, all led and facilitated by Selina Todd.
10.00-11.15 Session 1
From the Flappers to the Feminists: introduction to women’s history.
- Overview talk on women in modern British history
- Group study on why flappers incurred the wrath of politicians and the press in the ‘Roaring Twenties’.
11.30-12.45: Session 2
Storming the Citadel: women as educational pioneers. Often the history of women’s advancement focuses exclusively on suffragettes. We examine a much less well-known, but equally important, fight, as women sought to storm the citadels of British education.
- Overview talk and possible film showing
- Group study of diaries and memoirs of pioneers including those of Vera Brittain
(Testament of Youth) and Winifred Holtby (South Riding).
1.45-3.00: Session 3
Women, War and Film
The two world wars made a huge difference to women’s lives. We examine the new ways that women were represented during the Second World War, and how valuable film can be as a source for historians of women’s lives.
- Introduction to film as an historical source
- Film showing
- Group discussion
3.15-4.30: Session 4
War and social change
This session focuses on women’s personal experience of war. We examine social surveys of women’s lives, and their own diaries, to explore how far the Second World War brought new freedoms for some women – and how far war was a time of trauma and family breakdown.
- Introductory talk.
- Group study of women’s diaries (including that of Nella Last, the ‘Housewife 49’ dramatized by Victoria Wood).
10.00-11.15: Session 5
The Servant Problem, or: who does the dishes?
Domestic servants were the largest single group of workers in Britain until the 1940s, and domestic work remains a large employer today – yet we know little of domestic workers lives, or of the experiences of those women who employed them. This session explores the relationship between maids and their mistresses, and discusses how far men have ever contributed to domestic duties.
- Introductory talk
- Group study of press reports and diaries relating to the ‘servant problem’
11.30-12.45: Session 6
The ‘golden age’ of the family? Sex, family and friendship This session challenges the myths about women’s place in families over the 20th
century. We uncover the different kinds of family and friendship networks in which women have lived to learn that there was no ‘traditional’ or ‘normal’ wife, mother or family in history. We also examine how far family life provoked women to become feminists in the 1960s and 1970s. By using oral history transcripts and census returns, we will study how you can find out about women in your own family’s past.
- Introductory talk/film showing
- Group study of family life using oral history transcripts and census returns
1.45-3.00: Session 7
The feminist challenge
We discuss the aims and achievements of feminists in the 1970s and beyond. Using the knowledge we’ve gained in previous sessions, we’ll reflect on how far their aspirations were new. We’ll also examine why so many feminists have chosen to write their autobiographies and what these tell us about who became a feminist, and why the movement became so vilified in popular culture.
- Introductory talk and film showing
- Group study of feminist memoirs and texts
3.15-4.30: Session 8
The future for women’s history
This session reflects on how far women’s lives have changed across the twentieth century, and how the writing of women’s history has developed since the 1970s. We will explore whether we feel able to write ourselves into women’s history by trying to create our own short memoirs.
- Introductory talk and group discussion
- Group work on writing a memoir
- Question time: your chance to ask any questions about where to take your interest in
history next, whether through family history research, more formal study, or through
writing your own autobiography or history book.