What is the course about?
The suffragettes employed militant tactics to fight for votes for women. We will study short stories, plays and extracts from memoirs and histories by suffragette writers to consider how they used literature and the performing arts to rally support for the movement.
Dr Naomi Hetherington is University Tutor in English and Humanities, University of Sheffield, and a member of the Sheffield Institute for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies. Her research interests include women’s writing and the post-emancipation Jewish novel and she has published a number of articles on nineteenth-century feminist and Jewish writer Amy Levy. She is co-editor of Amy Levy: Critical Essays (Ohio University Press, 2010) with Dr Nadia Valman (Queen Mary, University of London).
What will we cover?
-the history of women’s struggle for the vote in Britain and the opposition to votes for women
-the formation of the suffragette movement and how it different from earlier organisations and movements campaigning for votes for women
-how the suffragettes used memoir, fiction and drama to rally support for the movement
-how they represented the cause in literature and on stage whilst providing new opportunities for women writers and actors
-how the suffragette movement is remembered today and what is its historical significance?
-did the military tactics of the suffragettes hasten or delayed the vote for women in Britain?
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
-discuss the literature of the suffragette movement and explain how literature and the performing arts were used by suffragettes to rally support for the movement
-analyse different kinds of literary and visual sources such as plays, short stories, memoirs, journals, banners and posters and explain how they can be used to tell the history of the suffragette movement
-give a brief account of the history of the suffragettes and debate whether their use of military tactics hastened or delayed the vote for women in Britain
- undertake a close reading of an extract of a literary text and begin to identify and critically analyse its key features.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
Anyone interested in women’s literature and history is welcome. Close reading will be a key part of the course and you will be taught the critical skills for undertaking a close reading of an extract of a text during the course of the day.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
There will be a short introductory talk and plenty of opportunity for discussion. The set texts are short and it is recommended that you read them in advance of the course. You will have the opportunity to analyse them in class in conjunction with contextual and critical material including contemporary and later histories of the movement. There will also be a short screening of clips from the recent film Suffragette dir. Sarah Gavron (2015) to help us consider how we remember the suffragettes today and their contemporary significance for women’s political struggle.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
Bring pen and paper. Copies of the set texts will be circulated by email or posted out in advance of the course and spare copies will be made available on the day. However, you may wish to purchase this anthology of suffragette writing from which a number of the texts are taken and have a browse through it in advance of the course: Literature of the Women’s Suffrage Campaign in England ed. Carolyn Christensen Nelson (Ontario: Broadview, 2004).
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
General information and advice on courses at City Lit is available from the Student Centre and Library on Monday to Friday from 12:00 – 19:00.
See the course guide for term dates and further details