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Seminar 16: The Change


This week we will read Germaine Greer’s The Change, but I will invite you to dip into the additional reading and to explore media discussions and the wider literature on changing expectations around middle age, its potential and challenges, and the menopause.

Seminar Reading

Germaine Greer, The Change: Women, Aging and the Menopause (Penguin, 1992). Link to Introduction

Julie-Marie Strange, ‘In Full Possession of Her Powers: Researching and Rethinking Menopause in Early Twentieth-century England and Scotland’, Social History of Medicine, 25 (2012), 685-700. e-journal

Primary Sources

E. Gallant, Delayed Menopause (1910); A.D. Napier, The Menopause and its Disorders (1897); F. Skae, Climacteric Insanity (1865). All are available through historical texts/

NHS choices website. Page on the menopause

Women's Hour Special on Hormone Replacement Therapy. Click here for link.

Additional Reading:

S.E. Bell, ‘Changing Ideas: The Medicalisation of Menopause’, Social Science and Medicine, 24 (1987), 535-42. e-journal

S.E. Bell, ‘Sociological Perspectives on the Medicalisation of Menopause’, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 592 (1990), 173-8. e-journal

Louise Foxcroft, Hot Flushes, Cold Science: A History of the Modern Menopause (London: Granta, 2009).

Pat Jalland and John Hooper (eds), Women From Birth to Death: The Female Life Cycle in Britain 1830-1914 (Brighton: Harvester, 1986), Part 5 ‘Menopause to Death’.

Patricia Jasen, ‘Breast Cancer and the Language of Risk, 1750–1950’, Social History of Medicine, 15 (2002), 17-43. e-journal

Elizabeth Siegel Watkins, ‘Medicine, Masculinity, and the Disappearance of Male Menopause in the 1950s’, Social History of Medicine, 21 (2008), 329-44. e-journal

Essay Questions

How has the menopause been medicalised?

What do attitudes towards menopause suggest about attitudes to ageing and towards women?

Discuss the contribution of feminists to our understandings of the menopause.