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Bedford Centre Lecture 2014

The English in Love

Professor Claire Langhamer

6pm 26th March 2014

MLT, Royal Holloway, University of London




Love has a history. It has meant different things to different people at different moments and has served different purposes. In this lecture I suggest that something very distinctive happened to love, and to our understandings of it, in the middle years of the twentieth century. Put simply, ordinary men and women began to expect a lot more from love and – because this was a period when most people sought (or felt compelled) to marry those they loved – they also expected more from marriage. Mid-century people increasingly looked for love at first sight, true love, a soul mate; they hoped to experience romance and a fulfilling sex life. The lecture explores the implications of rising expectations for the way people lived their lives and looks at the unsettling questions that people faced as love triumphed over pragmatism.

Claire Langhamer is Professor of Modern British History at Sussex University where she has worked since 1998. Her research deals with the diverse ways in which ordinary people negotiated modernity in twentieth-century Britain. She is the author of Women's Leisure in England 1920-1960 and The English in Love: The Intimate Story of an Emotional Revolution. She has also written on home, happiness, feelings about capital punishment and agony aunts.

Click here to hear Claire's lecture in full.


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