The taint of militancy is not upon them: representations of suffragists, suffragettes and direct action in The Times, 1908-1914

Kat Gupta

University of Nottingham

My research looks at the media representation of suffragists, constitutionalists who campaigned by lobbying Parliament and/or considered the more inclusive term, and suffragettes, who saw the vote as an end unto itself, who were prepared to engage in direct action, who were members of a militant organisation such as the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) or who challenged the constitutionalist approach (Holton 1986). In particular, I explore how direct action carried out by members of the British suffrage movement was represented in The Times newspaper between 1908-1914. The suffrage movement was not a unified one; rather, it was composed of various groups with differing backgrounds, ideologies and aims, and different terminology used to describe different factions of the movement. While historical research has focused on suffragist and suffragette-produced documents, little work has been done on how these groups were represented in the press.

In this presentation I explain how direct action emerged as an area of focus. Through repeated patterns in the data, I examine how direct action was represented in The Times, with particular focus on with which groups it was associated, the actions it described and whether the newspaper representation followed the same pattern of use identified by historians as present in suffragist-produced documents.

Week 28 2012/2013

Thursday 13th June 2013

FASS Meeting Room 3