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Feminist History Group

Co-convened by Anna Hajkova (Associate Prof of Modern European History) and Laura Schwartz (Reader of Modern British History)

This group is based in the History Department, but is open to all researchers whose work engages with questions of gender and feminism. We host talks and also provide the opportunity for close reading and in-depth discussion of theoretical (and other) texts. We hope to benefit from cross-disciplinary perspectives, and to develop an informal space in which we can learn from each other in thinking-through what are often challenging conceptual issues. Speakers to date have included Jack Halberstam, Judith Walkowitz, Sheila Rowbotham, Caroline Bressey and Alison Light (see below for a more detailed list of speakers over the last 2 years).

For more information please contact or

Autumn term 2021

Stella Dadzie, A Kick in the Belly: Women, Slavery and the Enduring Power of Resistance

co-hosted by the History Department Research Seminar and the Centre for the History of Medicine

4:30pm - 6pm, Wed, 03 Nov '21 Export as iCalendar

Chair Laura Schwartz; Respondent: Meleisa Ono George (University of Oxford)

Stella Dadzie will be discussing her latest book, A Kick in the Belly: Women, Slavery & Resistance in which she explores the myriad ways women encountered and resisted enslavement faced with centuries of focussed repression and gendered violence that was designed to break their spirit. She will show how women adapted cultural survivals and 'the peculiar burdens of their sex' in ways that not only undermined the very institution of slavery, but remain relevant to the challenges we face today.
biography: Stella Dadzie is a writer and feminist historian, best known for 'The Heart of the Race: Black Women's lives in Britain' which won the 1985 Martin Luther King Award for Literature, and was re-published by Verso in 2018 as a Feminist Classic. Her latest book 'A Kick in the Belly: Women, Slavery & Resistance' was published by Verso in October 2020 to critical acclaim. She is a founder member of OWAAD (Organisation of Women of African and Asian Descent), a national umbrella group for Black women that emerged in the late 1970s as part of the British Civil Rights movement.

Spring term 2021

Sarah Schulman, 'Let the Record Show: A Political History of ACT UP New York, 1987-1993'

co-hosted by the History Department Research Seminar

4:30pm - 6pm, Wed 2 Feb 2022
Location: online
Chair: Anna Hajkova, Respondent: Laura Schwartz

Sarah Schulman will be talking about her new book Let the Record Show: a Political History of Act Up . In just six years, ACT UP, New York, a broad and unlikely coalition of activists from all races, genders, sexualities, and backgrounds, changed the world. Armed with rancor, desperation, intelligence, and creativity, it took on the AIDS crisis with an indefatigable, ingenious, and multifaceted attack on the corporations, institutions, governments, and individuals who stood in the way of AIDS treatment for all. They stormed the FDA and NIH in Washington, DC, and started needle exchange programs in New York; they took over Grand Central Terminal and fought to change the legal definition of AIDS to include women; they transformed the American insurance industry, weaponized art and advertising to push their agenda, and battled—and beat—The New York Times, the Catholic Church, and the pharmaceutical industry. Their activism, in its complex and intersectional power, transformed the lives of people with AIDS and the bigoted society that had abandoned them.
Sarah Schulman is Distinguished Professor at the College of Staten Island, the City University of New York. She is a novelist, playwright, screenwriter, nonfiction writer, AIDS historian, journalist, active participant citizen and was active in the ACT UP movement about which she writes. Her many publications include Israel/Palestine And The Queer International (Duke University Press, 2012), The Gentrification of The Mind: Witness to a Lost Imagination (University of California Press, 2012), Ties That Bind: Familial Homophobia and Its Consequences (The New Press, 2010), Stagestruck: Theater, AIDS, and the Marketing of Gay America (Duke, 1998) My American History: Lesbian and Gay Life During the Reagan/Bush Years (Routledge, 1994)



1) Wednesday, March 17 2021, 4.30-6 pm, in cooperation with Warwick Workshop for Interdisciplinary German Studies:

Dr. Regina Mühlhäuser (Hamburg Foundation for the Advancement of Research and Culture): Book presentation and discussion of Mühlhäuser’s book: Sex and the Nazi Soldier. Edingburgh UP 2020.

2) Sina Speit (Erfurt), Allies, role models, mothers, ‘others’ – West German Feminists and coming to term with the Nazi Past, 2 June 2021, 4pm GMT on Zoom via Sociology.

This talk has been recorded and if you like, email Sina Speit and ask for a youtube link. (email in the link at her name)


Prof. Laura Doan (University of Manchester), An Unnatural History of Sexuality: Lord Berners and His Circle

One result of the dominance of normality in the modern age is that we have lost touch with the distinctive calibrations and complexities of an earlier discursive system: the natural and its unsettling antithesis, the unnatural. This talk turns to Lord Berners (1883-1950), whose playful antics with animals caught the public’s attention. By pushing normalization to the sidelines (sex as homo/hetero), we can better discern how sexual dissidents such as Berners reconfigured the unnatural as part of nature’s plan, a site of wonder and beauty.

Date: Wednesday 16 October

Time: 4 PM-6:30 PM

Venue: OC0.01


Film screening:Rafiki (co-hosted by the Africa Book and Film Series)

Date: Wednesday 22 Jan

Time: 4 PM-7 PM

Venue: OC0.01



Jane Freeland (Queen Mary) 'Reforming Rape: East German Women's Activism Against Sexual Violence'

Date: Tuesday 28 May

Time: 17:00-19:00

Venue: H5.45




Esme Cleall (Sheffield) 'Tilly Aston (1873-1847): Disability, Activism and Gender in Colonial Australia'

Date: Tuesday 19 February

Time: 17:30-19:00

Venue: R0.12

More information here




Susanne Luhmann (Alberta) 'Representing Familial Legacies of Nazi Perpetration: Postmemory and/or a ‘Move to Innocence’?'

Date: Wednesday 5 December

Time: 17:00-19:00

Venue: H2.44

More information here




Donna Harsch (Carnegie Mellon) 'Infantilizing Mothers or Empowering Them? The Fight against Infant Mortality in East and West Germany, 1949-1989'

Date: Tuesday 8 May

Time: 16:00-18:00

Venue: R0.14




Judith Gerson (Rutgers) 'Why Feminist Methods Matter'
Date: Thursday 11 January
Time: 18:00-19:30
Venue: OC1.07




Julia Laite (Birkbeck) 'Saving White Slaves in Early Twentieth Century London and Buenos Aires'
Date: Thursday 19 October
Time: 18.00-19.30
Venue: OC1.01
Alison Light, 'Memories, Histories, Selves: On Writing a Memoir'
Date: Thursday 16 November
Time: 18:00-19:30
Venue: OC0.01