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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The privileges of patriotism: national identity, nationalism and feminism in the Englishwoman’s review of social and industrial questions, 1880-1889 Perry, Lara Ann


Historians have recently begun to recognise the importance of gender and other ideologies in the formation of national identities. The “masculine” nature of national identity in nineteenth century England obstructs attempts by historians to describe a female nationalism; however, women did experience themselves as nationals despite the apparent conflict between national identity and “femininity.” The Englishwoman’s Review of Social and Industrial Questions was a feminist periodical published by women who were articulate both about nationality and gender. Here, the 1 880s issues of the Review are interrogated for their understandings first of “Englishness”; then of “womanhood”; and then of their description of “Englishwomen.” The women represented in the Review had a powerful national identity which was constructed by a knitting together of their understandings of Englishness and womanhood. Women’s activities were viewed in terms of their national significance, and concepts of nation and nationality were articulated in a language of “feminine” interests. These understandings constituted significant departures from “dominant” discourses of femininity and the state. At the same time, the discourse of Englishwomanhood produced in the Review was conservative, inasmuch as it reproduced most of the “dominant” notions of Englishness current among the urban middle class. These liberal values had a considerable impact on the feminism recorded in the Review; this kind of feminism was (and is) profoundly shaped by its alliance to “Englishness.”

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