Anna Davin discusses teaching women's studies

Description

English

Anna Davin recalls some of the discussions she had with students in her Women’s Studies class at the Braudel Center, Binghamton University, New York, during the 1980s and ‘90s.

Look up the history of Women’s Studies in the USA and compare it with the history of Women’s Studies in the UK. What do you think are the similarities and differences?

Image details
Teaching Women’s Studies photograph © Barbara Taylor

Transcript

Transcript

I can remember a rather good class on work where I got them to talk to, I said, ‘What sorts of work do you think of women as doing?’ and wrote up on the board their suggestions, but kind of categorised them as I did so that somebody would say, ‘Cleaning’, and I’d say, ‘Yes, well that could be in domestic service or it could also be unpaid work, or...’ So, I’d be trying to make them think about how to categorise as we went along, and also commenting on what women, how far women did that particular kind of work, at what point during the nineteenth century or the twentieth century. So with clerical, they might say secretary, that would allow me to be chronological and say, well, a woman wouldn’t really be called a secretary until probably the 1890s. They didn’t do very much clerical work until the mid-century and even then it was more an aim than an achievement, but you had the Society for the Promotion of Women’s Employment trying to get more skills education for women, for instance, setting up law copying, courses in how to write a legal hand, which was a particular handwriting. And you wouldn’t get work in legal copying, of which there was plenty to be done, you wouldn’t be able to get that work unless you could write the right hand. All sorts of clerical training they were setting up. And then in 1870 you get the nationalisation of the Post Office from all the separate telegraph offices, and the civil servant in charge of that realised that he could get cheaper labour which he thought would also be more docile, and indeed on the whole it was, and more skilled for the money, if he turned to women, and introduced a whole lot of women as telegraphists and clerical workers. So anyway, that’s something I’d done quite a lot on and I was able to talk to them about that as a way of historicising clerical labour.
Title:
Anna Davin discusses teaching women's studies
Date:
9 August - 25 November 2011
Duration:
2:01
Format:
Sound recording
Language:
English
Collection:
Sisterhood and After: The Women's Liberation Oral History Project
Copyright:
© British Library
Held by
British Library
Shelfmark:
C1420/02

Full catalogue details

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