Dr Tracey Loughran
In June 2010 I was awarded a British Academy Small Grant to conduct preliminary research on my new project, ‘Women, health and medicine in female print culture, c. 1960-1980’. This project investigates the role of medical knowledge and representations of health in a range of print media aimed at, or produced by, women in the period 1960-1980. The British Academy Small Grant will fund research on popular women’s magazines including Woman and Woman’s Own, but the project will eventually explore a range of magazines aimed at the ‘new woman’ of the 1960s as well as second wave feminist publications. The project examines of the gendering of representations of health and illness in women’s magazines; the transmission, diffusion and mutation of ideas about women, health and medicine in these forums; and the extent to which different groups of women rejected, challenged, or modified ‘scientific’ or culturally dominant concepts of healthy womanhood. In doing so, it will shed light on the ways in which women were perceived and targeted as important mediators of practical medical knowledge with a vital role in protecting the health of the family, and enable analysis of the shifting set of power relations women were involved in as consumers, ‘everyday practitioners’, and producers of medical knowledges.
This is an important and exciting period to research because of the convergence of a series of events: dramatic changes in women’s experience and expectations of reproductive and sexual health, partly as a result of developments in medical technology; the growth of consumer society, reflected in new magazine titles reaching out to untapped female readerships; related to both these factors, debates on women’s work and family roles; and the advent of second wave feminism, which began to formulate critiques of the gendered balance of power within medical institutions and relationships. Women’s magazines provide an established, accessible, and above all popular body of writing on health and illness, and mapping medical ideas in a variety of magazines across two decades will allow broader patterns to emerge. This project will provide a major addition to the social history of medicine in the postwar era. In addition, it will contribute to the histories of women in postwar Britain, feminism, and magazines, and will therefore be of relevance to academics in a variety of fields.
‘“Incomplete women”? Feminism, infertility, and popular women’s magazines in Britain, c. 1960-1980’, Families, Identities and Gender Research Network Symposium, Cardiff University, November 2011.
‘The right to choose? Infertility, feminism, and popular medical discourses in 1970s Britain’, Body and Mind in the History of Medicine and Health, European Association for the History of Medicine and Health Bi-annual Conference, Utrecht, September 2011.
‘Woman-to-Woman: gender, expertise, and care-giving in 1960s British women’s magazines’, For Love or Money? Historical Perspectives on Gender and Emotional Labour, West of England and South Wales Women’s History Network Conference, University of the West of England, July 2011.
‘The personal is the political is the historical: or, is this what a feminist historian looks like?’, West of England and South Wales Women’s History Network Study Day, Cardiff University, March 2011.
‘“The most helpful friends in the world”: health advice and information in Woman magazine in the 1960s’, History Seminar, University of Reading, February 2011.
‘Bloody women: rejections and reclamations of menstruation in 1970s British feminism’, Politics and Practices: the History of Post-war Women’s Health Conference, Centre for the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine, University of Manchester, October 2010.
‘“Like a doctor giving Valium to a housewife”? Spare Rib and feminist self-help in 1970s Britain’, Mediating Medicine Seminar Series, Aberystwyth University, November 2009.
‘The frustration and inspiration of women’s magazines: Spare Rib and the attempt to build new ‘imagined communities’ of women readers in the 1970s’, Women, Gender and Political Spaces: Historical Perspectives: 18th Annual Conference of the Women’s History Network.
‘Histories of gender and trauma in First World War Britain’, West of England and South Wales Women’s History Network Study Day, April 2009.
‘Our bodies, ourselves? Health, womanhood, and the sexual body in 1970s British feminism’, Social History Society Annual Conference, University of Warwick, April 2009.
‘Male hysteria, traumatic neurosis, and war trauma: re-reading shell-shock as a gendered diagnosis’, Gender, Health and Medicine: The West of England and South Wales Women’s History Network 14th Annual Conference with the Centre for Medical History, University of Exeter, July 2008.
‘Shell-shock, medicine, and psychological knowledge in Britain, c. 1910-1930’, Apéro 14-18: Evening seminars of the International Society for First World War Studies, Christ Church, Oxford, May 2008.
‘The evolution of a diagnosis: doctors, psychiatric knowledge and the framing of shell-shock in British medical discourse, c.1860-1930’, CHSTM Seminar Series, Centre for the History of Science, Medicine and Technology, University of Manchester, April 2008.
‘Perspectives on trauma’, War and Conflict Lab, University of Manchester, February 2008.
‘Degeneration, Regeneration and trauma: locating the history of shell-shock’, Social History of Medicine Seminar, University of Warwick, January 2008.
‘Histories of shell-shock and histories of trauma’, Shell-shock and trauma symposium, Institute of Historical Research, June 2007.
‘The evolutionary mind and the traumatic neuroses: shell-shock as a gendered diagnosis’, Manchester History Staff Seminar, April 2007.
‘Shell-shock in First World War Britain’, Psychoanalysis and History seminar, Institute of Historical Research, October 2006.
‘Hysteria, masculinity, and war: concepts and contexts in the intellectual history of shell-shock’, History of the Psyche Seminar, Institute of Historical Research, March 2006.
‘The anatomy of shell-shock in First World War Britain’, Military History Seminar, Institute of Historical Research, January 2006.
‘Languages of diagnosis: hysteria, neurasthenia and shell-shock’, History Postgraduate Seminar, Queen Mary, University of London, January 2006.
Impact and Public Engagement Activities
‘The Popularity of Historical Fiction’: panel member, Novel Approaches: From Academic History to Historical Fiction Conference, Institute of Historical Research, November 2012.
‘The Family Story and Oral History’: leader of open workshop as part of free one-day community event Life Stories held at St Fagan’s National History Museum, November 2010.
‘History, Trauma, and The Hurt Locker (dir. Kathryn Bigelow, 2008)’: short paper and panel discussion for SciScreen Cardiff, part of a cross-disciplinary series of events which promotes the engagement of publics with science and the academy, May 2010.
‘Wibble! From Blackadder to Regeneration: changing meanings of shell-shock in history and popular culture’: public lecture for the Humanities Forum Lecture Series, Cardiff Centre for Lifelong Learning, January 2010.
Introductory speaker at book launch for Michèle Barrett, Casualty Figures: How Five Men Survived the First World War, open-access event, Bishopsgate Institute, London, October 2008.
Co-convenor of the Families, Identities and Gender Research Network (FIG)
The Families, Identities, and Gender Research Network (FIG) is a new interdisciplinary research group founded by members of ENCAP, PSYCH, SHARE and WELSH. FIG aims to explore the following areas:
- different disciplinary definitions, concepts, and approaches to the study of family, identity, and gender;
- different subjective (bodily, emotional, and psychological) experiences of family, identity and gender, and their appropriate modes of investigation;
- modes of representation of family, identity, and gender, and their social, political, and historical influence;
- the relation of gender and family to other central organising concepts and aspects of identity such as race, class, and place.
FIG events aim to move beyond the traditional research seminar and encourage participation, discussion, and exchange of ideas. We are particularly keen to involve postgraduate students and to foster a research environment which includes postgraduate and more established scholars. If you would like to find out more about FIG events or to be added to the mailing list, please contact me at LoughranTL@cardiff.ac.uk.
Leader, Gender and Sexualities Research Cluster (SHARE)
The Gender and Sexualities Research Cluster consists of scholars with a wide range of research interests linked to gender and sexuality. Our primary activity is a monthly reading group which provides opportunities to discuss texts as well as to informally share research ideas. We are always happy for other individuals from SHARE to join these discussions; if you would like to be involved, please e-mail me at LoughranTL@cardiff.ac.uk.
Member of the West of England and South Wales Women’s History Network.