CFP: Feminism in the Media – Feminism and the Media in the 20th Century

First Meeting of the International Standing Working Group on Medialization and Empowerment
German Historical Institute, London
November 21 - 23, 2019
Stichtag: 31.08.2019

Is there a connection between women’s empowerment and emancipation, and the growth and spread of mass media in the 20th century? Feminism in the Media-Feminism and the Media in the 20th Century considers this question in a global context.

Since the late 19th century, there has been a parallel emergence of mass press and media and the proliferation of rights and identity-based movements. The women’s movements in North America and Western Europe in the 1960s and 1970s not only drew heavily on mediated discussions and campaigns for women’s equality, but the #MeToo Movement has shown how women and feminist activists have drawn upon the media as a way of mobilizing people against gender-based violence and sexual harassment. There is also evidence of the crucial influence of mass media on the development of feminism and women’s empowerment in other contexts. Telenovelas and radio series, for example, have been linked to a rise in divorce rates, increased uptake of family planning and a wider awareness of domestic violence in South America and Africa.

Exploring these intersections, this workshop will examine how the media has shaped ideas and practices of feminism and women’s empowerment, with particular emphasis on the experiences of Germany, Britain, India and the wider British Empire in the 20th Century. It will explore the media circulation of ideas, concepts, images and films, and how they were received and actively appropriated by women. It will also consider the challenges of this relationship; while the media opened new opportunities for women’s empowerment, the media has also perpetuated patriarchal gender norms and contributed to the objectification and exclusion of women. To this end, the workshop will reflect on the concept of ‘medialization’, a term that refers to the way spaces of communication have become increasingly dense and interlinked, but also to the increasing pressure for other social sectors to conform to the conditions imposed by the media. As such, the workshop will focus on the function of modern media in spreading knowledge that guides action, but also on the limits to the circulation of knowledge and their consequences.

We invite applications from interested scholars from history, sociology, anthropology, media and cultural studies, and gender studies to attend a two-day workshop exploring the connections between feminism, women’s empowerment and the media. The workshop will be structured around discussion of common readings, presentations and keynote lectures. Successful participants will be invited to submit pre-circulated think pieces of approximately 1500-words and give a short presentation based upon their own research, the shared readings, and the themes of the ISWG.

The meeting will be held on 21-23 November, 2019 at the German Historical Institute London. Economy travel will be reimbursed and accommodation provided for successful applicants. We invite applications from scholars at any academic level, but would especially welcome applications from PhD candidates and Early Career Academics. The conference language is English.

Applicants are asked to submit a one-page CV and a 200-250 word abstract situating their research within the themes and issues raised by the ISWG to Dr. Jane Freeland ( by 31 August, 2019. All applicants will be notified by 9 September, 2019.

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