séminaire Genre #session 4

Monday 19 November 2018 (17h-19h), Krista Cowman (Lincoln University, UK), “‘The Battle of the Parlour: views of working-class living space in inter-war Britain” (joint session with the research group Histoire du Politique). Respondent: Clarisse Berthezène (Université Paris Diderot).

This session will take place at the University Paris Diderot, in room 147 of the Olympe de Gouges building, on Monday November 19th 2018, between 17h and 19h. The seminar will end with an apéritif, around which we will continue the discussion. All are welcome!

“‘The Battle of the Parlour: views of working-class living space in inter-war Britain

In the 1920s and 1930s, a fierce public debate broke out in Britain over the Government’s decision to remove state subsidies for larger ‘parlour type’ houses.  The various defences put forward in support of the room suggest that for the majority of working-class housewives a parlour was a key marker of respectability with the potential to shape both the behaviours and aspirations of a household.  Contemporary and reflective autobiographical sources suggest that the occasional use of this space, which became a key factor in opposition discourse, was precisely what women valued most about its presence.  Recent controversy over the so-called bedroom tax, a key factor of Conservative austerity policies, suggests that the notion of extra space remains a contentious issue in state-subsidised households at the present time.

Krista Cownman came to Lincoln in 2006 as Professor of History after working in the School of Cultural Studies, Leeds Metropolitan University, and the Department of History, University of York.  Her doctoral research centred on women and politics in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and used Liverpool as a case study for investigating the impact of the suffrage campaign on a range of other political organisations.  This led to more detailed research on women who worked as paid organisers for the militant Women’s Social and Political Union.  She has published a number of books and articles on these themes, as well as consulting and appearing in various radio and television projects. More recently she has been looking at women’s lives in a number of different contexts; as ‘war brides’ in France during World War One, as campaigners for post-war reconstruction in and out of Parliament in Britain, and in a number of community campaigns for safe play areas in the inter-and post-war period through which women attempted to shape and control their own environments.


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