Women’s Suffrage and Beyond: Local, National and International Contexts

Event Details

  • Event date: 04/10/2018 – 05/10/2018
  • Venue: Weston Library, University of Oxford
  • CFP Deadline: 01/06/2018


Organised by Women in the Humanities, Alexandra Hughes-Johnson and Lyndsey Jenkins; University of Oxford.


The demand for women’s suffrage posed one of the greatest threats to the British constitution since 1832. It galvanised women from all classes and religious backgrounds across the United Kingdom and beyond, and it represented the most sustained episode of feminist activism in the history of the British Isles. Many studies of the suffrage movement have been produced since the early twentieth century, and much excellent research has deepened our knowledge of the activists who were involved in the movement, as well as the ideas and convictions which motivated them.

The centenary of women’s suffrage in 2018 presents an important opportunity to consider the historiographical debates which have underpinned scholarship on the movement, while also reflecting on the gaps that remain.  We will discuss these issues and others at a two-day conference, to be held at the University of Oxford, in October, 2018. We encourage papers from early career researchers as well as established scholars, independent researchers, arts, heritage, education and museum practitioners and creatives. We are eager to explore women’s suffrage and its legacy across the United Kingdom and the wider world.

Proposals of no more than 250 words are welcome for 20 minute individual presentations, plus a short biography. Panel proposals should include no more than three speakers, and include a chair who will co-ordinate participants: they should include an abstract of 400 words, plus summaries of participants and their papers. We welcome innovative ideas for round table or workshop style sessions.

Papers which engage with the following themes will be particularly welcome:

1.     Regional and four nations suffrage in the UK; consistency, peculiarities, cooperation (or otherwise) between activists across the country.

2.     Suffrage internationalism; the spread of ideas and people across the world through suffrage networks and alliances; problems and opportunities in such exchanges.

3.     The limitations of the movement

4.     Suffrage historiography: change and continuity; new developments.

Please send your proposal to: wihsuffrage@st-hughs.ox.ac.uk  by 1 June, 2018 at the very latest. – successful papers and panellists will be notified by the end of June. We hope to publish a selection of revised conference papers in a peer-reviewed journal or as an edited collection.

We will endeavour to make this conference free to graduate students and early career researchers. If there is sufficient demand, we will look into organising a crèche on at least one day of the conference. Please let us know if this would interest you. An optional conference dinner will be held on Thursday 4th October, following a keynote lecture and drinks reception. Keynote speakers include Prof. Susan Grayzel (Utah State University) and Prof. Nicoletta Gullace (University of New Hampshire).

This conference will be held as part of a broader series of events organised by Women in the Humanities to mark the centenary year. Both the university and the city of Oxford hosted lively networks of suffrage activists in the early twentieth century and Oxford remains a centre of feminist research. Part of the conference will be held at the Weston Library, which is currently hosting Sappho to Suffrage: Women who Dared, an exhibition curated by Senia Paseta, which features women’s lives and activism as represented in the Bodleian Libraries’ collections.

This conference is supported by the University of Oxford Fell Fund, the History Faculty and Women in the Humanities.