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Unit information: Modern Girls and New Women (Level I Lecture Response Unit) in 2018/19

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Unit name Modern Girls and New Women (Level I Lecture Response Unit)
Unit code HIST20079
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Lewis
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of History (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts


In the 1920s and 1930s, the 'Modern Girl' emerged as a global phenomenon from Tokyo and Bombay to London and New York as women all over the world campaigned for political rights and widened access to education. In this unit, we situate the emergence of the modern girl within a broader history of girlhood and femininity. Starting in the early modern period but focusing in particular on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, this unit traces how the lives and expectations of women shifted across time and geography. This unit will consider the experiences of women from many walks of life, from courtesans and suffragettes to factory girls and second wave feminists, taking a global perspective to think about how women's roles within politics and society differed across countries and communities. Themes that are likely to be covered include: prostitution, suffrage movements, women in war, women at work, sexual revolution and global feminisms. Students will learn about key concepts that underpin gender and global history including Orientalism, consumption, and social constructivism. As we explore the relationship between representations of women and individuals' lived reality, students will gain experience in dealing with a number of print and visual sources from paintings, cartoons, magazines and fiction to memoirs, diaries, life-writing and oral histories.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will have developed: (1) a broad understanding of the ways in which conceptions of the ‘modern girl’ and ‘new woman’ developed in the early twentieth century; (2) the ability to analyse and generalise about the historical roots of the ‘modern girl’; (3) the ability to select pertinent evidence/data in order to illustrate/demonstrate more general issues and arguments; (4) the ability to derive benefit from, and contribute effectively to, large group discussion; (5) the ability to identify a particular academic interpretation, evaluate it critically, and form an individual viewpoint.

Teaching details


1 x two-hour interactive lecture

1 x one-hour workshop

Assessment Details

One summative coursework essay of 3000 words (50%) and one unseen examination of two hours comprising 2 questions out of 8 (50%). Both elements will assess ILOs 1-3, and 5.

Reading and References

Alys Eve Weinbaum et al, The Modern Girl Around the World (2008)
Carol Dyhouse, Girl Trouble (2013)
Kumari Jayawardene, Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World (1986)
Lesley Hall, Sex, Gender and Social Change in Britain since 1880 2nd ed (2012)
Mina Roces and Louise Edwards, eds, Women's Movements in Asia (2010)