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Women in the First World War

Women in the First World War

A day of presentations, films, creative workshops and readings about women in the First World War

5 March 2016

5 March 2016, Women in the First World War @ People's History Museum

Time 10:30 - 17:00

Duration 6 hours 30 minutes

Cost £20 general admission/£10 students/unwaged + booking fee (includes lunch and refreshments)

The centenary of the First World War provides an ideal opportunity to reassess the centrality and diversity of British and American women’s involvement in the events of 1914-1918, both on the home front and in Europe.  This one day symposium will consider women’s responses to the war and the ways in which activists, mothers, nurses, ambulance drivers and war reporters recorded their experiences.  There will be a particular emphasis on the accounts of ‘ordinary’ women, whose autobiographical accounts have previously been hidden from history.

Planned activities include presentations on women’s writing, journalism and visual representations of women war workers.  There will also be a roundtable discussion of representations of women and war in the media.

The event will also include some creative and artistic workshops, run by creative writers and artists based at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU).  These will include Livi Michael, award-winning author of fiction for adults and children whose historical novel Succession (2014) explores the Wars of the Roses through the experience of women.  Workshop participants will be invited to reflect on, and respond creatively to, the exhibitions and the papers, in order to create their own posters, poems or stories on women’s experiences of wartime.

Ruth Sillers, actor and voice artist, will perform extracts from War Girls, her anthology of women’s accounts of their experience of the First World War and Dr Kirsty Bunting (MMU) will screen a short film on the work of local activist Ada Nield Chew.

Suitable for adults and young people over 11

Wonder WomenThis event is part of Wonder Women, Manchester’s annual feminist festival.  From 3-13 March 2016, we celebrate the women’s movement born in our city through film, art, music, walking tours, gallery takeovers, comedy and debate, asking how far we’ve come in 100 years – and how far we have yet to go.First World War Centenary, Led By IWM

Part of the First World War Centenary Programme.


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10.00am – 10.30am
The Left Bank cafe bar is open from 10.00am

Morning sessions (all sessions in the Coal Store Conference Room unless stated)

10. 30am – 11.45am
Pacifism, Participation and Women’s War Narratives

  • Sabine Grimshaw (University of Leeds/Imperial War Museum), ‘Representation and Resistance: Anti-War women’s writing in the Press’
  • Dr Emma Liggins (MMU), ‘Odd how the War Changes us’: Women Ambulance Drivers in war fiction and auto/biography’
  • Dr Alison Ronan, ‘O Mothers of England! An examination of handbills from The Women’s Peace Crusade, 1916-1918’

11.45am – 12.00pm

Tea and coffee

12.00pm – 1.00pm
The Impact of the First World War on the Campaign for Women’s Suffrage
Dr Angela Smith (University of Portsmouth)

1.00pm– 2.00pm
Lunch (included in registration fee)
There will also be time to look round the museum’s galleries.  Main Gallery One on the first floor includes collections relating to the suffrage campaign, the socialist movement and World War I.  Catherine O’Donnell, the museum’s Engagement & Events Officer, will be on hand to answer questions.

Afternoon sessions (all sessions in the Coal Store Conference Room unless stated)

1.00pm – 3.00pm
Art workshop: The Fabric of Protest
(Learning Studio)
What are the issues facing women in Manchester today?  Participants will reflect on positive changes for women made over the last 100 years, and look at what needs to change for the future as we approach the 2018 centenary of women gaining the right to vote for the first time.  Using a range of protest materials: ribbons, rosettes, patches, flags and badges, artist Helen Mather will be asking members of the public to contribute to an art piece with their slogan for change.

  • Participants are welcome to join the session for as long as they like.  Please register separately via Eventbrite

2.00pm – 3.15pm
Women’s War Literature

  • Prof Anne Varty (Royal Holloway), ‘Women and Poetry of the First World War’
  • Ellen Ricketts (University of Hull), ‘Queering the Home Front: Subversive Temporalities and Sexualities in Rose Allatini’s Despised and Rejected and Bryher’s Two Selves’
  • Dr Lisa Regan (University of Liverpool), ‘A Desert Romance? Women and the War in the Middle East’

2.00pm – 3.15pm
Creative workshop: Women at the Front (Meeting Room)
A chance to respond creatively to the museum’s collections and to women’s diaries from the Front with Dr Livi Michael, award-winning author of historical fiction (MMU) and Dr Liz Nolan (MMU).  Examine some of the visual images and autobiographical accounts of women’s involvement in the war, and write your own creative response, or design your own war poster.

3.15pm – 3.30pm  

3.30pm – 4.00pm
Ada Nield Chew, North West suffrage heroine
Dr Kirsty Bunting and Dr Orlagh McCabe (MMU, Cheshire campus) will show a short film and then talk about their Local Youth Engagement Project and travelling exhibition about the North West suffrage heroine, Ada Nield Chew, the ‘Crewe Factory Girl’ and her protest writing.

4.00pm – 5.00pm  
War Girls
Actor and voice artist Ruth Sillers, will give a reading from her CD War Girls, an anthology of women’s writing – diaries, letters and poetry – by both well-known figures and ordinary women.  She will then answer questions about her research.

  • After 5.00pm we will go for a drink in one of the local bars, and then for a meal in a restaurant off Deansgate.  Please let the organisers know numbers for the meal.
  • Any queries, please contact e.liggins@mmu.ac.uk or e.nolan@mmu.ac.uk.

Booking Requirements:

  • Please note event attendees must arrive at least ten minutes before the start time of the event, otherwise their booked space will be given to someone on the reserve list
  • Please contact the museum as soon as possible if you wish to cancel your reservation so your place can be given to another visitor
  • Refunds on ticket sales more than seven days in advance of an event are at the discretion of the museum
  • Refunds on ticket sales less than seven days in an advance of an event are non refundable
  • For further information please contact the museum on 0161 838 9190 or email events@phm.org.uk

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