Abstracts from the papers to be presented at the 2017 WHN Conference

Some abstracts from the papers to be presented at the 2017 WHN Conference appear below. Further abstracts will be posted.



Carol Coles 

Independent researcher

What Hilda did next


In this paper I will be considering the post War lives of the women who served with the Stobart Unit between April and December 1915, for many of whom this was only one period of their War Service. What did the end of the War mean for these women who had developed and enhanced their professional skills in the remote regions of southern and eastern Europe ? The increasing availability of records such as nursing registers, passenger lists and local newspapers make it possible piece together their post war lives.

Hilda Isobel Willis was one of these women who served as a nurse between 1915 and 1919. Despite coming from an army family she had not lived abroad prior to 1915 but her professional life after the War was spent working around the world. She was only one of the Stobart women who lived outside of Britain in the post war years.

This paper will consider the following questions:

For the women who went to work abroad after 1918, had their service in 1915 been their first experience of leaving this country ?

Which countries did the women go to work in – the Dominions or Empire ? For how many of the women did their experiences in humanitarian work in the Balkans engender a commitment to the people of what would become Yugoslavia ?

Did the women take up existing posts or were they motivated to establish a new organisation e.g. Orphanage, hospital

Were these posts and/or developments in traditional female areas of caring i.e. women and children or in lower status mental health services?

What role did family have in their actions whether marriage, a “service/mission” background, escaping family circumstances and the push back into spinster daughter role?

In respect to the majority of these women whether clinicians or non-clinicians, the only written accounts of their lives relate to their experiences during the Serbian Retreat at the end of 1915, so motives can only be speculated upon in light of the evidence of their actions.




Corinne Painter

Uneasy Cooperation: The women’s movement during the First World War


From the outbreak of the First World War, women’s groups in Munich began a process of cooperation that cut across religious boundaries to provide aid to those suffering as a result of the war. Widely lauded as a demonstration of a unified Germany, this philanthropic cooperation actually masked tensions within the women’s movement but, as the war dragged on, these tensions heightened and the movement began to fracture. Munich is a crucial setting in which to explore the divisions within the women’s movement due to its large Catholic majority but sizeable and growing Jewish minority. Due to its location, it became a destination for people fleeing persecution in Eastern Europe, many of whom were Jewish. Munich’s political diversity also became more apparent as revolutions swept through German cities at the close of the war. This paper will uncover some of these tensions by examining the responses of the leadership of the League of Jewish women (Munich branch) over the course of the war and which ultimately led to their resignation in the spring of 1918. In so doing, this paper will highlight the multifaceted nature of the women’s movement and the ways in which cooperation was possible or not. It will also discuss the legacy of the war on the women’s movement in the inter-war period in Germany.


Dr Corinne Painter completed her PhD at the University of Leeds in 2016. In her thesis she examined the life and works of Clementine Kraemer (1873-1942), a German Jewish writer and leader in the Jewish women’s movement. Corinne currently works in the research department at the Henry Moore Institute Leeds.  



Anna Konig


From patchwork banners to pussyhats: continuities and discontinuities in the craft of women’s protest



On January 21st 2017 more than five million women around the world took to the streets to reaffirm the need for the protection of women’s rights in an era when they are tangibly under threat. The sight of millions of women protesting, many of whom were wearing distinctive pink hand-knitted ‘pussyhats’, created a powerful visual spectacle that was rapidly communicated across the international community, aided by social media. This is not the first time that women have come together in this way, but it serves as prompt to revisit previous incarnations of craft as used in protest by women, and to consider the value that it adds to women’s collective voice.


The aim of this paper is to examine the continuities and discontinuities in the material culture of women’s protest, from embroidered banners produced by the suffragettes to the pussyhats worn by protesters in January of this year. With a focus on the those items that specifically use stitch, fabric or yarn, attention is given to the qualities of craft that make it a perennial and durable feature of women’s protest. What becomes evident through this analysis is that the crafting of these artefacts is far more than a means to an end: the craft of protest has provided an opportunity for women to come together, either literally or virtually, and to share knowledge of making. Furthermore, by considering historical examples in relation to contemporary ones, it becomes evident that rather than merely being a quaint vehicle of women’s political expression, craft is a deliberate medium of choice in contemporary protest. This paper is therefore concerned with unravelling and exploring those qualities of fabric, stitch and yarn that add value and meaning to political expression.


After completing my first degree at Sussex University, I studied design at Central Saint Martins and the London College of Fashion where I completed my MA in Fashion Theory.  Having taught in specialist art and design institutions for over a decade, I have extensive subject knowledge relating to the fields of fashion and textiles history and theory.

My research interests are concerned with fashion writing and representation, and latterly, the exploration of different models of sustainability within the fashion system, with a specific focus on the concepts of craft, mending and quality, and their role in people’s lives.

Please accept my apologies for the missing umlaut in your name,  there are problems with the facilities for retyping and copying on WordPress at the moment. WHN Admin.


Cheri Larsen Hoeckley

In Florence with Mrs. Browning: Expatriates or Migrants in the Barrett Browning Circle


Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Aurora Leigh (1856) fictionalizes and versifies the experiences of British women writers living away from England to seek broader economic, political, or religious possibilities. Extending Alison Chapman’s recent masterful reading of Aurora Leigh (in Networking the Nation: British and American Women’s Poetry and Italy, 1840-1870, [2015]) this paper brings attention to Victorian women’s property as much as to nationalism, revealing the limitations of the designation “expatriate” even in highly nuanced work like Chapman’s. We need look no further than W. R. Greg’s infamous  “Redundant Women” essay (1862)–with its laments about single English women’s inability to fulfill socially productive roles–to recall how forces of language deepened mid-century English women’s economic hardships. When Barrett Browning’s context includes women like her art historian friend Anna Murphy Jameson, the conditions that drove women to Florence develop in narratives of gender liberation, as well as of economic instability and conflicts over cultural assimilation, circumstances that often mark discourse on migrants. The parallels between the Browning-Jameson circle and people more often labeled “migrants” clearly foreground economic and political concerns in texts such as Aurora Leigh. Beyond illuminating a well remembered text, the extensive network of artistic production and cross-cultural friendships Victorian women formed reminds us of the variety of resources many immigrants bring to their second culture. This female network alerts us to ask how Victorian women’s identity shifted when in Italy with Jameson and Browning, and how that malleability of identity surfaced both in literary production and in Anglo-Italian relations. Especially when read in light of post-colonial and gender theories, Greg’s strident language reminds us of the controversies that have long surrounded transnational living, both in sending countries and in the countries that receive immigrants. Greg’s language, of course, also reminds us to consider our own.