Category: Research

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War Widows’ Stories: Listen to the Voices of War’s Forgotten Women

  The British public commonly imagine war widows to be elderly women who lost their husbands as a result of active combat in the Second World War, surrounded and supported by family, friends, the armed forces, and the state. While this applies to some women, it by no means describes the majority of Britain’s 18,950 war widows. War Widows’ Stories captures the lives of war’s forgotten women past and present through oral history, participatory arts, public events, and archival research. In doing so, the project dispels prevalent myths about war widowhood and highlights the hidden, everyday challenges these ordinary...

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AHRC Leadership Fellows Award for War Widows’ Stories

  I’m thrilled to be able to announce that I have been awarded one of the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Leadership Fellows grants. These grants are awarded to “research leaders and potential future research leaders” to support “high-quality, world-leading research” paired with collaborative activities that “develop capacity for research leadership in the arts and humanities”. Centred around War Widows’ Stories and starting in September 2018, the Fellowship will allow me to substantially develop the project through further research on the history of war and by continuing my work with the war widows’ community and museums in an effort to raise...

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War Widows’ Stories Launches Live on Woman’s Hour on Armistice Day!

On 11 November 2016, Mary Moreland and I launched the Heritage Lottery Funded project War Widows’ Stories live on Woman’s Hour. We were given eight star-struck minutes with BBC Radio 4’s Jenni Murray, and you can listen to the result below via BBC iPlayer. It’s needless to say I was so excited about being able to do this. It meant our project was given national coverage on Armistice Day, a time when the nation is focused on remembrance of the dead, but often forgets about our duty to take care of those who survive conflict, including veterans and...

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[Funding] Heritage Lottery Funds War Widows’ Stories

I’m really pleased to say that I’ve been awarded my first external grant since my PhD. It’s not exactly news anymore by now, but last semester was so busy that I just couldn’t find the time to record things as they were happening. I’ve spent a lot of time over the past few years thinking about two things in particular: how can I start working with people to whom my research on widowhood really matters; and what is my research and career strategy for the next few years. I regularly advise doctoral students and fellow early-career researchers that,...

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[BBC Arts Film] Women in Weeds: The Victorian Widow

Get the popcorn, and dim the lights … Ok, maybe not. But if you had 5 minutes to watch my BBC Arts film on deviant Victorian widows (and why they could be so dangerous!), I’d be very honoured and humbled. I had great fun making it, and am much more pleased with the result than I thought I would be, though that’s not difficult given I had envisioned a talking zombie walking through the V&A. Disclaimer: no one other than me is to blame for content, hair, and make-up. A big thanks goes to Chris – producer, cameraman, editor, and all...

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[Research] Widows, Weeds, & Victorian Jokes

I knew from the very early stages of my research that, for the Victorians, widows had a lot of tragic as well as comic potential. I don’t think, though, I was prepared to find quite so many widow-related jokes in the pages of periodicals, magazines, and newspapers. As their number increases by the day the more I browse and search, it only seems right to collate them here. So, ladies and gents, be prepared to cry with laughter, chuckle to your heart’s content, or shake your head in disbelief at these pitiful puns and witty lines on which you’re about to feast your eyes at your own peril.

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[Events] Women Writing Pleasure

3 July 2015, Liverpool John Moores University. I’m pleased to say that I’m co-organising this conference with two of my department’s PhD students: Chloe Holland and Krystina Osborne. Take a look at this post if you’d like to know more about the conference.

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[Commentary] “Widows Are Wonderful” (1917): A Musical Find from the First World War

While researching the introduction to my book on the widow in British literature and culture, I stumbled across a tune from the First World War which illustrates perfectly some of the attributes which have rendered the figure of the widowed woman a popular and loaded one here in Britain, not only since the Victorian period (which is where my book begins) but also from as early as Shakespeare’s times. Luckily for me, someone was generous enough with their time and enthusiasm to upload a YouTube video of his playing the original record, and below you can find my transcription...

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[Special Journal Issue] The Male Body in Victorian Literature & Culture

The breadth and depth of scholarship on Victorian men and masculinities leaves much to be explored. This special issue is the result of a call for essays which aimed to bring together the work of scholars who seek to contribute to the filling this gap. The essays we have selected for this volume share a central concern for the exploration of the Victorian male body not only as a signifier of a variety of gendered identities, anxieties, and norms but also as a physical canvas on which we can trace masculinity’s inherent and complex intersections with a variety...

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[Commentary] The Widow & the Law: A Brief History of Widows’ Pensions in Britain

At a time when we remember the First World War, its victims, and its survivors, it seems apt for me to share some of the research I’ve been doing on the literary and cultural history of the widow in Britain, and particularly on how the state’s support and the economic conditions of widowed women has changed in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and reflects both Britain’s development in terms of gender equality as well as the emergence of the welfare state.

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