February 2014 – Guest Blogger Lynn Abrams

In the second Guest Blog post from Women’s History Scotland steering committee members, we welcome Lynn Abrams who talks about forthcoming events for those interested in women’s history and recent successes of Women’s History Scotland members.

In the last few weeks I have been regretting agreeing to present quite so many papers on various aspects of women’s and gender history, especially given that they require new research and in some cases some very careful tiptoeing around. Last year I rashly volunteered to give one of the lectures in the University of Glasgow’s ‘How British is Scotland?’ series, a public event in partnership with The Herald newspaper. It was important, I thought, to devote one of these lectures to gender. I still think this but my initial ideas for the talk – comparisons between women’s position in England and Scotland in the past, some thoughts on gender roles and so on – were soon jettisoned as I realised the impossibility of the approach and the political hot water I could be jumping into – in this year of the referendum (there you go, I’ve mentioned the elephant in the room). So, taking the cowards way out I have alighted on Scottish women and internationalism. Not an especially original topic I know and WHS members have already made some important contributions on this very topic, but hopefully it will enable me to broaden the perspective and think a bit about Scottish women’s various and compatible identities. If that is copping out, so be it! At least it got me a day in the Women’s Library @ LSE to research the International Council of Women. After the surroundings of the original Women’s Library this new incarnation is, at least at present, a little disappointing (and cramped) but at least the collection stayed in one piece and it was gratifying to see the place so busy (be warned – book your seat in advance).

Also coming up are a talk at a workshop in St Andrews that Elizabeth Ewan and I are organising on Scottish Masculinities in which I’ll be speaking about a 20th Century masculine life very far from the hard man stereotype; a paper on a panel at the Berkshire conference of Women’s Historians in Toronto in May which will be re-thinking Gluck and Patai’s classic Women’s Words; and last but definitely not least, my very own inaugural lecture at the University of Glasgow which I hope many WHS members will attend in sisterly solidarity! I am looking forward to that one.

But it’s not all about me! A recent highlight was the publication of Rosi Carr’s first book on Gender and Enlightenment Culture in Eighteenth Century Scotland which started out as a PhD at the University of Glasgow. Rosi has gone on to greater things but in May we will be launching the book in its natural home in Glasgow (the home of Adam Smith though sadly no female enlightenment figures which is what Rosi’s book is all about and the cover image brilliantly portrays) with Jane Rendall attending to make it official. It is one of the most gratifying things about being a PhD supervisor to see your students publish their books and get jobs. Rosi is not the first of illustrious women’s and gender history graduates of Glasgow – she follows the trail of Megan Smitley and Katie Barclay – and I’m sure there will be more. Tanya Cheadle recently successfully defended her thesis on Sexuality in fin-de-siecle Scotland and there must be a book and a film in that!


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