Friday, 20 February 2015

ROLLS 25 Feb: Kat Gupta


Research on Languages and Linguistics at Sussex: Wednesday 25 February, 13.00. Jubilee G36
all welcome!
 
 Kat Gupta, University of Nottingham
Breaking the law for selfish purposes"?
suffragettes, suffragists and direct action in The Times, 1908-1914
 
My research looks at the media representation of suffragists, constitutionalists who campaigned by lobbying Parliament and/or considered the more inclusive term, and suffragettes, who saw the vote as an end unto itself, who were prepared to engage in direct action, who were members of a militant organisation such as the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) or who challenged the constitutionalist approach (Holton 1986). In particular, I explore how direct action carried out by members of the British suffrage movement was represented in The Times newspaper between 1908-1914. The suffrage movement was not a unified one; rather, it was composed of various groups with differing backgrounds, ideologies and aims, and different terminology used to describe different factions of the movement. While historical research has focused on suffragist and suffragette-produced documents, little work has been done on how these groups were represented in the press and to people who were not familiar with the internal politics of the suffrage movement. 
 
By examining repeated patterns in the data, I explore how direct action was represented in The Times, with particular focus on with which groups it was associated, the actions it described and whether the newspaper representation followed the same pattern of use identified by historians as present in suffragist-produced documents. I then compare it to the one area of The Times where suffrage campaigners were able to represent themselves – in letters to the editor. Strikingly different areas of focus emerge, and I argue that in their letter writing, suffrage campaigners create strategic sites of unity.

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