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Copy of Cultures of Activism

Questions to ponder whilst you read…

  • How were the activist techniques of the WLM innovative?
  • What was different about the way the WLM organised from previous social movements?
  • What do you think ‘the personal is political’ means?
  • How might the activist culture of the WLM make us think differently about the kinds of sources we use to study social movements?

Preparatory Activity

Find a document or object relating to the WLM. This can be as weird and wonderful as possible – a magazine, theatre ticket, letters, badges etc. These can be original archive documents or extracts from a book, or something you have seen on ebay, etc. We will be doing a 'show and tell' session.

Core Reading

Carol Hanisch, 'The Personal is Political' her views in 1969 and 2006 (ALL)

E. Setch, ‘The Face of Metropolitan Feminism: The London Women's Liberation Workshop, 1969-79’, Twentieth Century British History 13:2 (2002) 171-90 [Charlie, Emily]

S. Bruley, 'Consciousness-Raising in Clapham; Women's Liberation as ‘Lived Experience’ in South London in the 1970s', Women's History Review 22 (2013), 717-738 [Tamyla, Ateeqa]

C. Hughes, ‘Realigning personal and political: narratives of activist women in the late 1960s and 1970s’, Women’s History Network Magazine, Spring 2012. [Harprit, Megan]

Further Reading

L. Foster, 'Spreading the Word: feminist print cultures and the Women's Liberation Movement', Women's History Review 25:5 (2016), 812-831 [This whole Special Issue of this journal is useful]

L. Foster, ‘Printing Liberation: The Women's Movement and Magazines in the 1970s’, in L. Forster, Laurel & S. Harper, British Culture and Society in the 1970s : the Lost Decade (2010)

S. Bruley, Article on Consciousness Raising Groups, in Feminist Anthology Collective (ed.) No Turning Back: Writings from the Women’s Liberation Movement 1975-1980 (1981)

M. Jolly, In Love and Struggle: Letters in Contemporary Feminism (2008)

D.M. Withers & R. Chigley, ‘A Complicated Inheritance: Sistershow and the Queering of Feminism, 1973-4’, Women: A Cultural Review 21:3 (2010), 309-322

M. Wandor, Once a Feminist: Stories of a Generation (1990)

R. Baxandall & L. Gordon (ed.s) Dear Sisters: Dispatches from the Women’s Liberation Movement (2000)

Kathy Battista, Renegotiating the Body: Feminist Art in 1970s London (2013)

Melanie Waters, 'Risky Ms.-ness? The Business of Women’s Liberation Periodicals in the 1970s', Women: a Cultural Review 32:3-4 (2021), 272-294

Spare Rib no.38 (1975) [available in MRC 711/C/1/55]

 Shrew (autumn 1974) [available in MRC 758/1/8/9]