Housework and housewives in second-wave feminism and popular women's fiction

Activity: Public engagement and outreachPublic speaking engagements


This was a talk I gave to the Kingston University of the 3rd Age ‘Women in History’ group in April 2018. The aim was to tell them about my research into the dialogue between second-wave feminism, popular fiction, and shifting conceptualisations of housework and women's domestic roles, but with a view to garnering *their* opinions on the subject. All of the audience members had lived through second-wave feminism, although a few were too young to have been as directly affected by it as the housewives depicted in the novels I talked about. However, they all had very personal stories to recount, most of them had read at least one of these novels, and they had an understanding of the issues based on their lived experience of them rather than scholarship. The venue itself was exceptionally apt -- the John Lewis in Kingston, where announcements on the loudspeaker for deals on cosmetics periodically punctuated my lecture and the subsequent discussion. The women in the audience were alive to this irony. I ended up taking the phone numbers of two of them, with a view to interviewing them about their experiences of SWF in the U.S. I am hoping to integrate this into my research. They in turn expressed enthusiasm for my take on the topic, and have invited me to give another one, on domestic appliances and housework in the twentieth century, at their event on women in the 20th century in September 2018.
Period10 Apr 2018
Held atUniversity of the Third Age, United Kingdom
Degree of RecognitionRegional