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Level 7

7AAH3026 Gender and British Society, 1945-2000

Credit value: 20 credits
Module convenor/tutor (2019/20): Dr Ben Mechen
Availability: Please see module list for relevant year
Teaching pattern:
10 x 2-hour weekly seminars
Assessment: 1 x 4,000-word essay


Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

The modules offered in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand: there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary between years.

This module will explore British society during and after the Second World War in relation to gender relations, prescriptions, and conventions.  The focus will be on institutional changes in work places, politics, schools, and universities, as well as the structural, demographic, and emotional shifts within marriage and the home. The aim is to interweave women’s and feminist activism into the social and cultural history of late-twentieth century Britain, attending to intersections of race, class, age and more. The Women’s Liberation Movement will be set within the context of the so-called ‘permissive’ shift of the 1960s, and its legacy assessed. The relatively recent growth of historical interest in masculinities is integrated into the course, with an examination of the ‘new man’, ‘lad culture’, and new subjectivities for men.

Provisional Teaching Plan

Each seminar’s discussion will be guided by a set of key questions, but students should aim to think about the topics broadly and be prepared to discuss all of the issues arising from their reading. Students must complete the core reading and are expected to read a selection of secondary readings and primary sources, following their interests. In this module, students are especially encouraged to reflect on the demands and opportunities of writing the history of the very recent past. Each week the seminars will begin with a student presentation reflecting on the major themes, followed by small group work and open discussion. Arrangements for presentations will be arranged in advance with the module convenor.

Suggested preliminary reading

This is suggested reading and purchase of these texts is not mandatory

Stephen Brooke, Sexual Politics: Sexuality, Family Planning and the British Left from the 1880s to the Present Day, (2011)

Sue Bruley, Women in Britain since 1900, (1999)

Krista Cowman, Women in British Politics c.1689 - 1979, (2010)

Carol Dyhouse, Girl Trouble: Panic and Progress in the History of Young Women, (2013)

Lesley Hall, Sex, Gender and Social Change in Britain since 1880, (2013)

Alana Harris and Timothy Willem Jones (eds), Love and Romance in Britain, 1918-1970, (2014)

Laura King, Family Men: Fatherhood and Masculinity in Britain, c. 1914 - 1960, (2015)

David Kynaston, Family Britain, 1951-57, (2009)

David Kynaston, Modernity Britain, 1957-62, (2015)

Claire Langhamer, The English in Love: the Intimate Story of an Emotional Revolution, (2013)

Jane Lewis, Women in Britain since 1945: Women, Family, Work and the State in the Post-War Years, (1992)

Helen McCarthy, 'Gender Equality' in Pat thane (ed.), Unequal Britain Equalities in Britain since 1945, (2010)

Elizabeth Roberts, Women and Families. An Oral History, 1940-1970, (1995)

Simon Szreter and Kate Fisher, Sex before the Sexual Revolution: Intimate Life in England 1918-1963, (2010)

Pat Thane and Tanya Evans, Sinners? Saints? Scroungers? Unmarried Motherhood in Twentieth Century England, (2012)

Ina Zweininger-Bargielowska (ed.), Women in Twentieth Century Britain, (2001)




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