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26th May, 2020

Call for Papers ‘Nineteenth-Century Women’s Campaign Writing’


The centenary of the 1918 Representation of the People Act which first granted (some) women  the right to vote in the UK prompted widespread celebrations in 2018.

While ideas of ‘militant  suffragettes’ and ‘moderate suffragists’ have become familiar to the public imagination, these  campaigns built on the increasing participation in public debates achieved by women through  advocacy and campaigns throughout the long nineteenth century. This heritage of women’s campaigning goes back to Mary Jeune on housing, Josephine Butler against the Contagious  Diseases Acts, and Caroline Norton on divorce and child custody. Women are also closely  associated with nineteenth-century campaigns against sweated labour, slum housing, and  vivisection, both as prominent campaign leaders and supporters.

But these narratives also raise questions of prejudice and exclusion. What is the social  context of advocacy for others as perhaps the only acceptable mode of women’s participation in  public debates? What issues come into play when campaigners seek to represent concerns and  experiences that may not be their own? Which campaigners are recognised and remembered and  which go unacknowledged? How can we understand women’s campaigns against equal rights, such  as Mary Ward’s opposition to women’s suffrage?

This special issue of Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies will explore the impact, development,  and legacy of women’s campaign writing of the long nineteenth century. We welcome proposals  for traditional academic articles as well as shorter pieces exploring issues around the legacy and  heritage of nineteenth-century women’s campaign writing. Topics may include:

• Political participation including women’s voting rights

• Campaigns regarding women’s participation in professions

• Women’s property rights

• Access to and quality of education

• Divorce and custody of children

• Public health and welfare campaigns

• Abolition

• Labour activism and anti-sweating campaigns

• Children’s rights and welfare

• Anti-vivisection and animal rights

• Family planning and birth control

Contributors may wish to address the following questions:

• How can/should nineteenth-century women campaigners be remembered and celebrated?

• How can/should we approach their work and aims in the present-day classroom?

We welcome submissions of 5,000–8,000 words in length. Articles should be in MLA format and should include a brief biographical note which will be posted if accepted for publication. Please refer to the NCGS submission guidelines for further details.  Please submit your article directly to Lisa C. Robertson and Flore Janssen at by 1 October 2020.

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