My Website

Friday 31 December 2010

Things of interest

Recently received in email from diverse sources:

Gender Bodies & Technology listserv: Please visit our website which includes an archive of the 2010 conference [which looks as though it must have been extremely interesting]:

We invite you to join the listserv which serves as a place to share about
new works, publications and art exhibitions, as well as circulate relevant
calls for papers and job postings. The list is also an opportunity to
network with other scholars in this area of research and to build a sense of
community among those of us that otherwise might not cross paths due to our
own disciplinary locations. We are also in the process of drafting a call
for papers for a 2012 conference, details of which will be forthcoming.

Also, please feel free to forward this invitation and subscription
instructions to folks (or other relevant listservs) that you know who might
be interested in joining the list:

To subscribe to the list:

1.    Access your e-mail.
2.    Address a new message to  <>
3.    In the body of the message, type: subscribe
[Gender_Bodies_and_Technology] [First Name] [Last Name]

Feel free to contact me with an y questions or if you have trouble
subscribing to the list. My email:  <>


Call for Papers History of Psychology and Psychiatry Postgraduate Conference, 19th March 2011.
The Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL will host a one day conference for postgraduate students working on the history of psychology and psychiatry. The conference is intended to develop a network of postgraduates across different universities, and to provide a forum for current research in the field. The conference is open to students from both the UK and abroad. There will be funding available to cover travel costs and refreshments will be provided. We welcome papers on any historical period, and on any geographical region. To see what some of our students are working on, please follow this link: A title and a brief abstract of 150-200 words should be sent to Sarah Marks by the 10th of February ( Please do not hesitate to contact us with any queries.

Thursday 30 December 2010

Advance Notice: ESSHC 2012, Glasgow

This is always a stimulating and worthwhile event: the conference as a whole tends to gain from being a large-scale event, but the individual network panels are the right size for good discussion.
CALL FOR PAPERS - History of Sexuality Network  9th European Social Science History Conference Glasgow, Scotland, UK, 11-14 April 2012 *Deadline for proposals: 1 May 2011*  The Sexuality Network of the European Social Science History Conference  invites papers on the history of sexuality for inclusion in its programme of panels at this bi-annual conference. The ESSHC 2012 will take place in Glasgow, Scotland at Glasgow University.  The ESSHC aims at bringing together scholars interested in explaining historical phenomena using the methods of the social sciences. The conference is characterized by a lively exchange in many small groups, rather than by formal plenary sessions. The Sexuality Network of the ESSHC is the one of the leading European arenas for new work on the history of sexuality. We welcome proposals for full panels (3-4 papers) as well as offers of individual papers. Papers and panels on all historical periods are welcome.  Our criteria for inclusion in the programme will be to highlight those panels and papers that display innovation, theoretical rigour, and exciting directions in research into the history of sexuality.  The range of interests covered by the Network are wide and previous gatherings have included work on historical approaches to: sexual activity; sexual identities; heterosexuality; homosexuality; marriage, divorce, and extra-marital sex; celibacy, masturbation; fertility and its technologies; sexual subcultures; geographies of sexuality; oral history; sex and the archives; sex work; sexually transmitted disease; HIV/AIDS and sexuality in historical perspective; cultural representations of sexuality; medicalization of sexualities; legal regulation of sexuality; sexual violence; globalization and sexuality; historiographical approaches to sexuality; Marxist, queer and feminist historiographies.  All proposers of papers (and all panel participants) must pre-register at the conference website in order for their offers to be considered: Information about the conference fees and conditions are also available at this site.  The deadline for paper and panel proposals is 1 May 2011. You (and all panel participants, if applicable) must also pre-register by this date.  Contacts for further information about the Sexuality Network:  Elise Chenier  Julie Gammon  Jens Rydström 

I haven't yet seen the CFP for the Women and Gender network, but this, and several others, are also of interest to historians (and indeed, scholars in other disciplines) concerned with gender, sexuality, relationships, emotions, etc

Tuesday 28 December 2010

About time...

(This seems to be becoming a place where, besides the stated aims, I'm noting stuff that may come in useful for the forthcoming revision/expansion of Sex, Gender and Social Change since 1880 - or other projects.)

Sunday 26 December 2010

Chronology of change

Having an interesting discussion on in response to a question as to changes in the literary depiction of female sexuality following the introduction of the Pill. My initial query was as to whether there were changes.

In response to response, I'm now thinking about
a) the 'vanguard' (as Hera Cook describes them) of women who were leading lives of sexual experimentation or at least eschewing the premarital chastity requirements for 'respectable women' were probably more likely to be represented in novels and short stories of the 50s and early 60s than their actual statistical presence in the population might lead one to anticipate
b) I'm not sure whether the Pill or legalisation of abortion, 1967, was the most significantly liberatory factor. I certainly haven't, so far, found the abortion trope figuring in post-1970 novels except when dealing with the pre-67 past, Whereas I've found quite a lot of literary examples dealing with the pre-67 situation.
c) Or, perchance, increasing destigmatisation of single motherhood, though that might also be related to the above factors.

Thursday 23 December 2010

Oldies but goodies

While it may seem very retro in the days of Web 2.0, I still subscribe to several listservs and still find them of considerable value in ways that I'm not sure all the exciting new ways of online interaction can really replicate. Though possibly these days I do a lot more skim-reading or deleting on the basis of subject line than I used to.

There was a particularly interesting (at least to me)  discussion recently, which ranged across both VICTORIA and H-Histsex, about whether society women of the 1880s would have known about syphilis, if so whether they would have talked about it, and in particular, would married women have discussed the topic in front of a younger unmarried woman.

My initial reaction was that unless they had had some involvement with the social purity movement and the campaign for the repeal of the Contagious Diseases Acts, probably not, in an era when doctors usually did not inform married women that the underlying reason for their ill health/failure to conceive/sequence of miscarriages or stillbirths was a venereal disease given them by their husbands.

However, it subsequently dawned upon me that the long-drawn out and high-profile Campbell v Campbell divorce case*, in which Lady Colin Campbell sued for divorce on the grounds of her husband's adultery, plus cruelty in the form of communicating syphilis to her in spite of having been cautioned about his condition by doctors, took place in 1886. She had already been granted a judicial separation on the latter ground a few years previously. It seems entirely probable that this sensational case - Lord Colin Campbell had cross-petitioned claiming multiple instances of adultery on his wife's part  - was widely gossiped about. Though in its syphilis-related aspects almost certainly in whispers, and not in front of unmarried women.

*This scandalous case is set in the wider context of Lady Colin Campbell's unusual and fascinating life in a recently published biography by Ann Jordan.

Wednesday 22 December 2010


A few rather slight updates to the website
a new Quotation of the Week,
and some rather minor changes, mostly to do with deleting now obsolete information or adding updated details, in Archival Matters, Links: History of Sexuality, Links: Women's History, and Victoriana.

A couple of recent publications: my chapter, co-authored with Lucy Bland, 'Eugenics in Britain: The view from the metropole', in Alison Bashford and Philippa Levine (eds) The Oxford Handbook of the History of Eugenics, 2010, and an article, 'No Sex, Please, We're Socialists': The Labour Party prefers to close its eyes and think of the electorate', Socialist History, 36, 2010

Tuesday 21 December 2010

Archive serendipity

My latest post to the Wellcome Library blog, A remarkable man. I was finally catching up on cataloguing a small group of papers recently received, and this is what I found out doing the background research. Someone who made the at the time unique jump from being a ranker in the Medical Service Corps to being a commissioned officer of the Royal Army Medical Corps - and went on to have a career of military and research distinction once he'd done so, to the point where he probably needed someone else's chest to help display all his gongs.

Monday 20 December 2010

The root, the blossom or the bole: passing along the message

Between 1909 and 1912, over sixty suffragettes who were recovering from the harsh treatment they had received while imprisoned for their political activism came to stay with the Blathwayt family at Eagle House in Batheaston, Somerset. As committed supporters of the women’s movement, the Blathwayts wanted not only to help the women recover physically, but also to record, in the very landscape, the cause for which they struggled. As such, they created a very special garden in the grounds of their villa, encouraging the suffragettes who stayed with themto plant trees and bushes commemorating their efforts and their hopes for the future of women's political equality.

Photographs of this beautiful field of trees, or ‘Annie’s Arboretum’ as it was also called, after the suffragette Annie Kenney, can be viewed online via Bath in Time ( — see ‘Social History’).

This unique work of feminist landscape history survived until the late 1960s, when it was destroyed to make way for a housing estate. At present, only one of the original trees remains from the original arboretum: a large Austrian Pine planted by the suffragette Rose Lamartine Yates (1875–1954) on 30th October, 1909.


On International Women’s Day, 8th March, 2011, The Centre for History & Culture at Bath Spa University, in conjunction with Bath & Northeast Somerset Council, will celebrate the centenary of this unique piece of suffrage history in Bath, with the symbolic planting of commemorative suffragettes’ trees in Royal Victoria Park, Alice Park, and Bath Spa University. These plantings, which we hope will attract widespread media attention and involve leading female politicians and public figures, as well as the general public, will serve as a living testimony to all those — suffragettes and suffragists — who contended to win votes for women and secure women’s rights as full citizens.

Sunday 19 December 2010

Website updates

Added today:
To Reviews:  external links to several reviews I did for Medical History, 1981-1996 (mostly, for some reason, books about nurses), now available via PubMed Central.
To History of Sexuality: my own writings: link to free downloadable version on PubMed Central of my article "The Cinderella of Medicine": sexually-transmitted diseases in Britain in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries' Genitourinary Medicine, 69, Aug 1993
To Publications on Archives: links to articles of mine on various archival collections now online in PubMed Central and elsewhere.