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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).

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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) Reading session: Tiffany Florvil, Mobilizing Black Germany: Afro-German women and the making of a transnational movement, select chapter, May (with visit from Dr Florvil)

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

The presentation will introduce how the West German Feminist Movement dealt with the history of the National Socialism. I focus the alternative public sphere in the 1970s-80s, which was shaped by feminist ideas and practices and which was an important space for the self-assurance of the movement. The confrontation with the german past challenged the feminist solidarity with women, who were part of the National Socialist society and – in some cases – mothers of the feminists themselves. Victimization and positive identification but also scepticism and conflicts were part of these debates and influenced the feminist theory in its development process. The German feminists – only a few of them experienced the ‘Third Reich’ as small children – also found allies and role models in elderly women, who were in the resistance against Hitler. The confrontation with their own mothers and ‘others’, namely Jewish women and victims of racist persecution, was more difficult and sometimes painful. I will show this with a few examples from my research.

postponed: Prof Catherine Hall, 'Being an historian – then and now' (co-hosted by the History Department seminar)

Date: Wednesday 26 February

Time: 5 PM-7 PM (Refreshments will be served from 4:30 PM onwards, all welcome)

Venue: OC0.01

Reflecting upon her personal and political life as a feminist and postcolonial historian, Professor Hall will consider the politics of intellectual work, how ideas emerge from movements and communities, and what politically-engaged historians should be doing in the present conjuncture.

Catherine Hall is Emerita Professor of Modern British Social and Cultural History at University College London. She is known for her work on gender, class and empire in the 19th century, particularly her pioneering Family fortunes: men and women of the English middle class, 1780-1850 (new edn. Routledge, 2002) which she published with Leonore Davidoff in 1987 and Civilising Subjects; metropole and colony in the English imagination 1830-1867 (University of Chicago Press, 2002), one of the first substantive feminist histories to take up questions of race as central to the formation of modern Britain, a work influenced by black feminism. Hall published Macaulay and Son: architects of imperial Britain (Yale University Press) in 2012 and is Chair of the Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slave-ownership.

Professor Hall was active in Birmingham women's liberation and attended the first national women's liberation conference at Ruskin in 1970. From 1981-1997 she was a member of the Feminist Review Collective. Her journalism and scholarship most recently includes a history of the ‘hostile environment



Dr. Elissa Mailänder (SciencesPo)

Date: Wednesday 27 May

Time: 4:30 PM-6:30 PM

Venue: OC0.01




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