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Seminar Questions
  • How did the education of girls and boys differ in this period?
  • To what extent did working-class girls benefit from the educational changes of the period 1850-1900?
  • Did the innovations to middle-class girls' education represent any substantial break with traditional ideas of feminity?
  • How effectively did women exploit new opportunities brought about by their increasing access to higher education?

Please could you research the following:

Working-class girls/boys education

Middle-class girls/boys education

Higher education

Core Readings (good overviews)

Susie Steinbach, Women in England, 1760-1914, chapter 6

Jane McDermid, The Schooling of Girls in Britain and Ireland, chapters 1, 2 and 3

Recommended Additional Reading (some important aspects of education explored)

Julia Bush, 'Special strengths for their own special duties’: women, higher education and gender conservatism in late Victorian Britain', History of Education, (2005)

Sara Delamont, 'The Contradictions in Ladies' Education' in S. Delamont and L. Duffin (eds), The Nineteenth-Century Woman: Her Cultural and Physical World

John Tosh, Manliness and Masculinities in Nineteenth Century Britain, Part Two Changing Masculinities, Chapter Five 'Middle Class Masculinities in the era of the Women's Suffrage Movement, 1860-1914' (2005).

Modern Records Centre digitised archives on Education.

Jane McDermid, 'Women and Education' in Purvis (ed), Women's History: Britain, 1850-1945

G. Sutherland, 'Education' in F M L Thompson (ed.), The Cambridge Social History of Britain, volume 3

Philip Gardner, Literacy, learning and education' in Chris Williams (ed.), A Companion to Nineteenth-century Britain

S. Auerbach, 'Everyday responses to legal compulsion in England's working-class communities', Journal of Social History (2013)

M. Bryant, The Unexpected Revolution: A Study in the History of the Education of Women and Girls

J. Burnett (ed.), Destiny Obscure, Autobiographies of Childhood, Education and Family from the 1820s to the 1920s (1982).

J. Burstyn, Victorian Education and the Ideals of Womanhood

M. Collins, The Essential Daughter: Changing Expectations for Girls at Home, 1797 to the Present (2002)

A. Davin, Growing Up Poor: Home, School and Street in London 1870-1914 (1996)

Sara Delamont, 'The Domestic Ideology and Women's Education' in S. Delamont and L. Duffin (eds), The Nineteenth-Century Woman

Paul Deslandes, 'Competitive examinations and the culture of masculinity in Oxbridge undergraduate life, 1850-1920', History of Education Quarterly, 42 (2002)

Carol Dyhouse, Girls Growing Up in Late Victorian and Edwardian England

Carol Dyhouse, 'Going to university in England between the Wars', History of Education, 31 (2002)

Carol Dyhouse, No Distinction of Sex? Women in British Universities, 1907-39

Carol Dyhouse, ‘Good Wives and Little Mothers: Social Anxieties and the Schoolgirl's Curriculum, 1890-1920’, Oxford Review of Education 3 (1977) 21-35.

J. Howarth, and M. Curthoys, 'The Political Economy of Women's Higher Education in Late Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century Britain', Historical Research, 60 (1987)

Felicity Hunt, Lessons for Life: the schooling of women and girls, 1850-1950

Margaret Gomershall, Working-Class Girls in Nineteenth-Century England

B. Lammers, ‘The Citizens of the Future’: Educating the Children of the Jewish East End, c. 1885-1939’, Twentieth Century British History 19 (2008) 393-418.

Philippa Levine, Victorian Feminism

R. McWilliams-Tullberg, 'Women and Degrees at Cambridge University', in M. Vicinus (ed.), A Widening Sphere: Changing Roles of Victorian Women

J. S. Pedersen, 'Some Victorian Headmistresses', Victorian Studies (1981)

J. Pilcher, ‘Bodywork. Childhood, Gender and School Health Education in England, 1870-1977’ Childhood, 14 (2007) 215-233.

June Purvis, Hard Lessons: The Lives and Education of Working-Class Women in Nineteenth-Century England

E. Roberts, ‘Learning and Living—Socialization Outside School’, Oral History 3 (1975).

Susan Skedd, 'Women Teachers and the Expansion of Girls' Schooling in England, c. 1760-1820', in Barker and Chalus (eds), Gender in Eighteenth-Century England

W B Stephens, Education in Britain, 1750-1914

Martha Vicinus, Independent Women


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