Amy Todd

Amy Todd


Thesis Title

‘Total Liberation’: Feminism, Socialism and Red Rag (1972-1980)


University of Manchester
People’s History Museum


Professor Ben Harker
Professor Daniela Caselli

Research Summary

‘Total Liberation’: Feminism, Socialism and Red Rag (1972-1980)

‘We are in no mood’, stated the first editorial of British feminist-socialist periodical Red Rag: a Magazine of Liberation (1972-1980), ‘to wait for socialism to bring us liberation.’ Red Rag brought together and shaped leading post war feminists, and provided cutting edge analysis of key issues around gender, class and sexuality, but has been overlooked by historians.

This fully funded PhD project, run in collaboration between The University of Manchester and People’s History Museum (PHM), seeks to fill that gap. The project challenges the usual parameters of labour and feminist history respectively by grappling with the particularly close relationship between socialism and second wave feminism in Britain. The project contends that the various positions and debates in Red Rag not only anticipated later feminist works, but remain instructive for radical social movements now.

The key questions posed by the PhD thesis will be:

what was Red Rag?
how did it respond to its moment?
why does it matter, now?

Reflecting the research methodologies of the supervisory team and the pedagogical ethos of PHM – an institution which promotes learning as social change – the project therefore links past and present. It integrates: theoretical analysis of questions of gender, capital and class; periodical analysis (close reading of the context, form and content of Red Rag and its articles, pictures, poems and stories); and empirical historiography (analysis of documents detailing the journal’s production, distribution and reception).

The Labour History Archive & Study Centre (LHASC) at PHM holds the unique primary sources necessary to cast light on these relationships, including a complete run of Red Rag and related periodicals (Women Today and Tomorrow, Marxism Today, The Link). The PhD student will spend on average four days a month at PHM. In addition to writing a PhD thesis, they will conduct various tasks related to cataloguing and promoting PHM’s holdings in feminist history, benefitting from expert training in archival research, digitisation, cataloguing and public engagement.

Research Interests

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