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Dr Zoe Strimpel, British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship

Breakups in Britain, 1971-1993

Dr Zoe Strimpel's Fellowship focuses on the history of breakups in Britain between the introduction of no-fault divorce in 1971 and the cresting of the divorce rate in 1993.

Crisis emerged as a dominant theme in relational life in the late 20th century as relationship types proliferated, investing romantic bonds with a new precarity.

While marital breakdown is a key focus, this project Dr Strimpel will move beyond the dyad of marriage and divorce, examining how the romantically-separated – from teenagers to the long-married – managed their romantic failures in conjunction with experts during a period in which expectations surrounding intimate relationships had dramatically intensified.

In doing so it will offer new understandings of how the meanings of romantic commitment and selfhood were shaped in relation to the new gender order, therapeutic narratives, and burgeoning individualism of late 20th century Britain.