10 books to read for Women’s History Month 2024

Here are 10 books to read in celebration of Women’s History Month. We are very excited and proud to be apart of the ever-evolving study into the role of women and its importance within society.

By Anna McKay

Uncovers the female voices, lived experiences, and spiritual insights encoded by the imagery of textiles in the Middle Ages. For millennia, women have spoken and read through cloth. The literature and art of the Middle Ages are replete with images of women working cloth, wielding spindles, distaffs, and needles, or sitting at their looms. Yet they have been little explored.

Book jacket image: A Liturgical Play for the Medieval Feast of Fools
 by Robert C. Lagueux

Women and Devotional Literature in the Middle Ages

Edited by Cate Gunn, Liz Herbert McAvoy and Naoë Kukita Yoshikawa

Silence was a much-lauded concept in the Middle Ages, particularly in the context of religious literature directed at women. Based on the Pauline prescription that women should neither preach nor teach, and should at all times keep speech to a minimum, the concept of silence lay at the forefront of many devotional texts, particularly those associated with various forms of women’s religious enclosure. Following the example of the Virgin Mary, religious women were exhorted to speak seldom, and then only seriously and devoutly. However, as this volume shows, such gendered exhortations to silence were often more rhetorical than literal

Book jacket image: The Multimedia Works of Contemporary Latin American Women Writers and Artists Edited by Jane Elizabeth Lavery and Sarah Bowskill

A Mexican Film Star and her Legacy
by Niamh Thornton

Did Félix really bring baby crocodiles to the Cartier boutique to request lifelike copies in a necklace? The story may be apocryphal, but it perfectly encapsulates her powerful, independent and unconventional persona. This book first examines Félix’s life and work, reviewing her films and acting style and considering what they say about gender norms and a woman’s place on screen. It then turns to her role as curator and benefactor, exploring how art, literature and song sustained her image. It concludes by exploring the persistent interest in her life story and evaluating her significance for contemporary audiences.

Book jacket image: National and Transnational Memories of the Kindertransport
by Amy Williams and William Niven

Edited by Jane Elizabeth Lavery and Sarah Bowskill

In contemporary Latin America, an emerging crosscurrent of pioneering female writers and artists with an interest in transgressing traditional boundaries of genre, media, gender and nation are using their work to voice dissent against pressing social issues including neo-liberal consumerism, environmental degradation, mass migration and gender violence.  Via an analysis of multimedia interventions and practice, the volume shows how the work of these women draws attention to the constructed nature of all boundaries and borders, be they between nations or people, in an increasingly globalised and digitalised world.

Book jacket image: The Multimedia Works of Contemporary Latin American Women Writers and Artists Edited by Jane Elizabeth Lavery and Sarah Bowskill

A Life, with Richard Wagner by Eva Rieger Translated by Chris Walton

When Richard Wagner first met Minna Planer in 1834, he was an unknown conductor, she a popular actress. His hectic pursuit of her affections culminated in marriage in 1836. Minna endured poverty with him, nursed him through chronic illness, followed him across Europe as he fled from creditors and pursued his artistic goals, and sought to provide him with the stable domestic and erotic life that he craved. He played his works to her as he wrote them, up to Tannhäuser and Lohengrin, and set store by her opinions. But when he went on the run as a wanted revolutionary, Minna only reluctantly followed him into Swiss exile. In Eva Rieger’s acclaimed biography, translated into English by Chris Walton, the author reveals Minna as a self-assured woman and artist who played a crucial role in the creative life of her husband.

Book jacket image: The Multimedia Works of Contemporary Latin American Women Writers and Artists Edited by Jane Elizabeth Lavery and Sarah Bowskill

By Erica Siegel

This book explores Maconchy’s life and music within a greater consideration of the social and political context of the world in which she lived. While the influence of Bartók has been well documented, this book reveals the equally potent influence of Vaughan Williams on Maconchy’s musical idiom. This book also discusses Maconchy’s foray into administration and her advocacy of young composers through her work as the first woman to be elected Chairman of the Composers’ Guild of Great Britain in 1959 and President of the Society for the Promotion of New Music following the death of Benjamin Britten in 1976.

Book jacket image: The Multimedia Works of Contemporary Latin American Women Writers and Artists Edited by Jane Elizabeth Lavery and Sarah Bowskill

Edited by Ladan Affi, Liv Tønnessen and Aili Mari Tripp

Examining how women activists have made a difference through informal peacebuilding activities, the contributors explore women’s efforts to reshape the post-conflict context by struggling for legislative and constitutional reforms and by advocating for political representation and political inclusion more generally within peacebuilding processes. They also look at how women have pushed back against the conservative Islamist forces that today dominate much armed conflict in Africa. Suggesting that women’s formal participation in peace negotiations is vital in bringing about an end to conflict and preventing its resumption, as well as the one of the most effective strategies.

Book jacket image: The Multimedia Works of Contemporary Latin American Women Writers and Artists Edited by Jane Elizabeth Lavery and Sarah Bowskill

Property, Vulnerability & Mobility, 1660-1880 Edited by Mariana P. Candido and Adam Jones

This book brings together scholars from Africa, North and South America and Europe to show, for the first time, the ways in which African women participated in economic, social and political spaces in Atlantic coast societies. Focusing on diversity and change, and going beyond the study of wealthy merchant women, the contributors examine the role of petty traders and enslaved women in communities from Sierra Leone to Benguela. They analyse how women in Africa used the opportunities offered by relationships with European men, Christianity and Atlantic commerce to negotiate their social and economic positions; consider the limitations which early colonialism sought to impose on women and the strategies they employed to overcome them.

Book jacket image: The Multimedia Works of Contemporary Latin American Women Writers and Artists Edited by Jane Elizabeth Lavery and Sarah Bowskill

Political and Psychological Discourses in Women’s Writing By Katherine E Calvert

Women’s experiences and opportunities in the Weimar Republic (1919-1933) were shaped by tensions between advances in women’s rights and widespread adherence to conservative notions of gender roles and women’s maternal duty. This book explores these tensions, which were particularly pronounced on the political left, by analyzing socialist and socially critical women writers’ interventions in contemporary debates on gender and women’s role in society. For women in Weimar Germany, writing represented a subversive medium through which they could individualize reproductive politics and imagine modern models of mothering.

Book jacket image: The Multimedia Works of Contemporary Latin American Women Writers and Artists Edited by Jane Elizabeth Lavery and Sarah Bowskill

By Karin A. Wurst

Karin A. Wurst examines didactic novels by female authors, autobiographical texts, popular philosophy, advice literature, periodicals, pedagogical tracts, and household manuals in pursuit of a nuanced rethinking of the relationship between women’s roles as wives, mothers, and housekeepers and as creators of the cultural spaces of the home. She finds that the high-value imaginary of domesticity encouraged women’s agency insofar as they were tasked with turning theoretical ideals into everyday practice. At the same time, her book shows the under-illuminated contribution of women’s work to social and political change from within the patriarchal structures of eighteenth-century Germany.

Book jacket image: The Multimedia Works of Contemporary Latin American Women Writers and Artists Edited by Jane Elizabeth Lavery and Sarah Bowskill

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