Reading List: What is feminism historically speaking?

This (necessarily incomplete) reading list can serve as a starting point for anyone interested in the question of how one defines feminism for the purposes of historical enquiry. If you know of other helpful sources, please add it by ‘responding’ to this post. Thanks!

Akkerman, T. and Stuurman, S. (1998) Introduction: feminism in European history, in Perspectives on feminist political thought in European history: from the Middle Ages to the present, (Eds, Akkerman, T. and Stuurman, S.) Routledge, London and New York, pp. 1-33.

Banks, O. (1981) Faces of feminism: a study of feminism as a social movement, Basil Blackwell Ltd., New York and Oxford, introduction.

Caine, B. (1997). English feminism 1780-1980. Oxford, Oxford University Press, introduction.

Cott, N. F. (Autumn 1989). “Comment on Karen Offen’s “Defining Feminism: A Comparative Historical Approach”.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 15(1): 203-205.

Delap, L. (2005). “Feminist and anti-feminist encounters in Edwardian Britain.” Historical Research 78(201): 377-399.

Delmar, R. (1986). What is feminism? What is feminism? J. Mitchell and A. Oakley. Oxford, Basil Blackwell: 8-33.

Faraut, M. (2003). “Women resisting the vote: a case of anti feminism?” Women’s History Review 12(4): 605-622.

Gottlieb, B. (1985). The problem of feminism in the Fifteenth Century. Women of the medieval world : essays in honor of John H. Mundy. J. Kirshner and S. F. Wemple (eds.), Oxford, Blackwell, 337-364.


Kent, S. K. (1988). “The politics of sexual difference: World War I and the demise of British feminism.” Journal of British Studies 27(3): 232-253.

Nym Mayhall, L. E. (1995). “Creating the ‘Suffragette Spirit’: British feminism and the historical imagination.” Women’s History Review 4(3): 319-344.

Offen, K. (Autumn 1988). “Defining Feminism: A Comparative Historical Approach.” Signs 14(1): 119-157.

Riley, D. (1988). “Am I that name?” : feminism and the category of “women” in history. Basingstoke, Macmillan Press, introduction.

Sabrosky, J. (1979). From rationality to liberation: the evolution of feminist ideology. London, Greenwood Press, introduction and conclusion.

Sapiro, V. (1998). A woman’s struggle for a language of enlightenment and virtue: Mary Wollstonecraft and Enlightenment ‘feminism’. Perspectives on feminist political thought in European history. From the Middle Ages to the present. T. Akkerman and S. Stuurman. London and New York, Routledge: 122-135.

Scott, J. W. (1996) Only paradoxes to offer. Fench feminists and the rights of man. Cambridge, MA; London, Harvard University Press, introduction and conclusion.

Spender, D. (1986). What is feminism? A personal answer. What is feminism? J. Mitchell and A. Oakley. Oxford, Basil Blackwell: 8-33.


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