Modern Girls: Women in Britain, c.1914-1990
Value: one unit
Dr Stella Moss
Taught through weekly two-hour seminars
3-hour exam (50%), best two of three coursework essays (40%), oral presentation (10%)
The slender flapper, cigarette holder in hand, off to cocktails or a night at the flicks epitomizes the surface glamour of modernity. With an office job, a swimsuit, sex appeal (known as 'SA' or 'It') and a voguish knowledge of Freud, she was ready for anything. But how real were her gains? This course explores the words and experiences of British women in a century of rapid social, economic and cultural transformation. We will determine the constraints on women in war and peace, politics, law and citizenship, education and paid work, marriage, motherhood and family. But we will also explore women's dreams and disappointments in courtship and romance, sexual relationships and desire, domesticity and home-making, consumerism and fashion. The elaboration of femininity and gender roles in the glossy media of advertising, women's magazines, paperback books, broadcasting and film is a continuous theme of the course. Together we will look at expectations and outcomes, promise and its containment. Perhaps the Hoover and the hostess trolley were not the answer to a woman’s prayers?