Rooms of Our Own: The Spatial Turn in Histories of Women’s Education

Sue Anderson-Faithful, Catherine Holloway


Virginia Woolf’s «A Room of One’s Own» (Woolf, 1929) provides a resonant spatial metaphor for envisaging the negotiation of factors that mediate/facilitate women’s «horizons of possibility» which accrue around the ideas encapsulated in another spatial metaphor «women’s place». Space is an expansive concept and offers possibilities for investigation both materially and metaphorically, and at different scales from the intimate to global. This article takes three historical case studies; on the Mothers’ Union, a girls’ junior technical school and women’s presence at the Anglican Church congress to reflect on the embedded nature of space and place in research into women’s activism in philanthropy, education and the work place. This article draws on the spatial turn in scholarship underpinned by Henri Lefebvre’s landmark Production of Space and the work of feminist geographers Linda McDowell, who focuses on the gendered nature of space and identity, and Doreen Massey who conceives spaces as arenas of conflict (Lefebvre, 1991; Massey, 1994; McDowell, 1999).To conceptualise the validation of women occupying space whether in ‘rooms of their own’ or as agents in a wider public sphere we draw on Pierre Bourdieu’s concepts of capital and pedagogic authority.

Palabras clave

women; space and gender; turns; education; networks; Anglican religion

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