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ePortfolio of Beckie Rutherford

Research Overview

My research is co-supervised by Dr Laura Schwartz and Dr Claire Shaw and is kindly funded through a departmental scholarship. My project is provisionally entitled ‘Apart or A Part’? Understanding the Erasure and Agency of Disabled Women Within British Liberation Movements, c. 1965-1996. I examine the life stories of disabled women and their relationship to both the Women’s Liberation Movement and the Disabled People’s Movement in Britain. Three broad questions are currently shaping my research:

  • How did disabled women engage with both feminist and disability rights activism?
  • In what ways did disabled women connect their identities as women to their identities as disabled people?
  • Why has disabled women's activism been almost entirely excluded from the prevailing narratives surrounding the Women’s Liberation Movement and the Disabled People’s Movement?

Drawing extensively on print culture and oral history, my work will challenge the erasure of disabled women from both popular and academic narratives of two of the most seismic liberation movements of twentieth century Britain.

Research Interests

  • Disability history and disability studies
  • Women’s history and feminism
  • Class, gender and sexuality in twentieth century Britain
  • Histories of activism and liberation movements
  • Histories of the body

Methodological Approaches

  • Oral history
  • History of emotions

Academic Background

2018-2022 University of Warwick, PhD History

2017-2018 University of Warwick, MA Modern History

2013-2016 University of Oxford, BA History

Awards and Funding

  • Departmental scholarship for 3.5 years of doctoral research
  • Sir John H. Elliott Prize for highest overall mark in MA cohort

Conference Papers, Lectures and Seminars


March 2021 ‘Disability and “Everyday Health” in Gemma Newsletters, 1978-2000’, paper presented as part of the Gender, Subjectivity, and “Everyday Health” in the Post-1945 World online seminar series, Body, Self and Family project, University of Essex


February 2020 'New Histories of Disability', seminar given to the Centre for the History of Medicine, University of Warwick

October 2019 'Disabled Women Organising, 1978-1996', guest lecture given to the 'Disability, Inequality and the Life Course' Sociology Undergraduate Module, University of Warwick

July 2019 ‘Apart or A Part?’ Understanding the Agency and Erasure of Disabled Women Within the Women’s Liberation Movement in Britain, 1979-1993’, paper presented at the Modern British Studies Conference, University of Birmingham (nominated for best PGR/ECR paper 2019)

June 2018 Disabled Women, Sisterhood, and the Women’s Liberation Movement in Britain, 1979-1993, paper presented at the Postgraduate Medical Humanities Conference, University of Exeter

May 2018 Emotional Politics and the Women’s Social and Political Union, 1903-1917, paper presented at the Department of History Postgraduate Conference, University of Warwick


October 2020 'Disabled Women Organising: Feminism and Disability Rights Activism', article written for British Library website Unfinished Business: The Fight for Women's Rights

Other Positions

March 2020 - present books reviews assistant for the German History Journal

October 2019 - March 2020 assistant for the Centre for the History of Medicine Seminar Series

July 2019 - March 2020 co-convener for the Centre for the Study of Women and Gender Graduate Seminar Series

October 2018 - March 2020 assistant for the Warwick Feminist History Group

April - May 2019 chair of the organising committee for the Warwick Department of History Postgraduate Conference