University of Bristol Law School and IAS host 2nd Suffragette Workshop
16 April 2014
University of Bristol Law School and IAS host second Suffragette Workshop ‘Constructions of Suffragettes’ ‘Deeds and Words’ is a series of five workshops which will reflect upon the campaigns for female suffrage locally and nationally, their antecedents and successors, in a creative and interdisciplinary manner.
WorkshopUniversity of Bristol Law School and IAS host second Suffragette Workshop
‘Constructions of Suffragettes’
Verdon Smith Room
Royal Fort House
7th May 2014 at 17.00
If you would like to attend or receive further information about the series, please email the convenors:
‘Deeds and Words: Gender, Protest and Law Reform’
University of Bristol, Institute for Advanced Studies Research Workshops
In October 1913, the University’s sports pavilion was burned down, probably by militant suffragettes participating in a campaign of arson intended to draw attention to their cause and to force the government to move towards allowing women the vote. Bristol University students then attacked the shop and local headquarters of the Women’s Social and Political Union, situated on Queen’s Road opposite the site of the Wills Memorial Building.
The incidents were widely reported in the local and national press.
Inspired by this story as well as the wider activities of campaigners for female enfranchisement, ‘Deeds and Words’ is a series of five workshops which will reflect upon the campaigns for female suffrage locally and nationally, their antecedents and successors, in a creative and interdisciplinary manner.
Workshop 2 : The papers
- Mary Corcoran (Criminology, Keele)
‘Spectacular protest: imprisoned women's bodies as artefact of resistance’
This paper explores the portrayal of imprisoned bodies as a heuristic device for transforming individual suffering into a medium for public consumption and political discourse. It starts with the story of prison resistance during the Northern Ireland ‘Troubles’ (1969-1998) involving women affiliated to republican paramilitary groups such as the Irish Republican Army and the Irish National Liberation Army (i.e. Nationalist, largely Catholic, which aimed to secede from the United Kingdom). During that time, campaigns which drew attention to their prison struggle dramatized prisoners’ bodies as signifiers of an historical contest between a repressive colonial state and the resilience of Irish national resistance. However, the paper calls the visual rhetoric of embodied protest into question as a progressive political strategy, by suggesting that it can be mobilised for the opposite purposes from which it was originally intended. Specifically, the evocation of injustice or cruelty by reference to women’s bodies is already susceptible of cultural re-construction in terms of disordered otherness. Therefore, it is necessary to give some thought to the fragility as well as the potency of the lexicon of bodily suffering in political activism. The discussion will conclude by considering how women’s bodily vulnerability remains a signature of contemporary penal reform campaigning and explores the potentially regressive implications of this approach.
- Viv Gardner (Drama, Manchester)
‘The Shrieking Sisterhood: representations of the suffragette on stage and screen.’
In 1913 suffragettes disrupted performances of James Sexton's A Riot Act at Liverpool Rep daily until he modified his negative portrayal of one of the sisterhood; elsewhere members of the Actresses Franchise League were showing doughty working women triumphing over anti-suffrage ladies and cinemas suffragette harridans getting their comic comeuppance. This paper will look at the ways in which suffragists and anti-suffragists exploited the dramatic media of the age.
- Genevieve Liveley (Classics, Bristol)
‘Goddesses, Amazons and Witches: classical configurations of suffragette actvism’
The popular press of the early twentieth century frequently looked to the world of classical myth to represent and ridicule suffragettes and suffragette activism. In incongruous re-workings of well-known myths, the women are configured as unlikely classical male heroes (Sisyphus, Perseus/Persea, Paris/Parisette), heroines (Cassandra, Clytemnestra, Medea), and ‘monsters’ (Amazons, Harpies, witches). Exploiting these classical figures and stories for their own publicity and political uses, suffragettes similarly invoke key characters from classical mythology as models for their own leaders and activities – finding particular affinity with the infamous witch Medea, reading songs and speeches from the recently translated Euripidean tragedy Medea at their meetings and rallies. This paper sets out to explore the dynamics of this extraordinary moment in the reception of the classical tradition, re-evaluating the appeal of the classics for the British suffragette movement.
Further details will be available at: