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Bodies of Knowledge: Science, Popular Culture, and Working-Class Women's Experience of the Life Cycle in Yorkshire, c.1900-1940

Martin, Claire Pauline Lucie (2018) Bodies of Knowledge: Science, Popular Culture, and Working-Class Women's Experience of the Life Cycle in Yorkshire, c.1900-1940. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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C.P.L. Martin - History - PhD - 2018.pdf - Final eThesis - complete (pdf)
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The production and diffusion of knowledge are heavily classed and gendered practices. This thesis examines some of the processes and power relations at the heart of the creation and diffusion of knowledge on sexuality and female physiology in the period 1900-1940. More specifically, it explores the tensions inherent to these processes along the lines of gender and class, by focussing on scientific discourse, popular culture, and the experience of Yorkshire working-class women in relation to menstruation, sex, pregnancy, and menopause. Spanning four decades marked by significant social, political, scientific, and cultural changes, this thesis reflects on the complex and ambivalent relationships between working-class women’s knowledge and experience, scientific or otherwise ‘expert’ knowledge, and cultural understandings and representations of women and their bodies in this period. By deliberately focussing on women’s voices and active contribution to these shifts and competing discourses, this thesis seeks to foreground their agency, and raises questions about what constitutes knowledge and expertise, the power relations which sustain those definitions, and how they are reproduced in the historical record. Through its regional focus, this thesis also engages with recent developments in the history of health and medicine and in the history of sexuality, and contributes to a more nuanced understanding of the lived experience of working-class sexuality in the past. Region, as well as class and gender, determined the material, social, and cultural conditions which shaped working-class women’s experience of sexuality and the life cycle, as well as their access and relationship to various forms and sources of knowledge.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: women; gender; sexuality; working class; Yorkshire; menstruation; sex; pregnancy; menopause
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of History (Leeds)
Depositing User: Claire P. L. Martin
Date Deposited: 18 Sep 2018 12:46
Last Modified: 18 Sep 2018 12:46
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/21490

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