2020 Sylvia Naish Lecture Competition Winner Announced

Tuesday 21 January 2020

The winner of this year’s Sylvia Naish Lecture competition is Katherine E. Calvert, who will be giving her lecture entitled ‘The Idealised Mother and the Socialist Movement in Weimar Germany’ at the Institute on Thursday, 2 April 2020. Katherine is a research student at the University of Sheffield, sponsored by the White Rose College of Arts and Humanities. She completed her BA (Hons) in French and German Studies at the University of Warwick before undertaking an MRes in German and Comparative Literature at King’s College London, for which she was awarded the University of London’s Jethro Bithell Prize.

This lecture will analyse socialist women’s responses to, and shaping of, ideas about motherhood in Weimar Germany (1919-1933). By examining Frauenwelt, the women’s magazine of the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) during the Weimar era, it will be shown that, despite campaigns to increase women’s access to birth control and provide better protections to single mothers, the left-wing women’s movement did little to challenge widely held essentialist ideas about women’s natural capacity for mothering. It will be contested that Frauenwelt’s promotion of normative ideas about women’s mothering not only reflected women’s continued acceptance of gendered divisions of labour, but also contributed to the perpetuation of such notions, and argued that, while socialist women of the post-World War I generation attempted to take greater ownership of their own mothering choices, the ideal of women’s mothering remained intact during this period, leaving supporters of the political left ill equipped to challenge effectively the rise of profoundly misogynistic policies on the far right in the late Weimar period.  

The Sylvia Naish Lectures were launched in memory of Sylvia Naish, an accomplished linguist, translator, Friend of Germanic Studies, and benefactor of the former Institute of Germanic Studies. The lecture is chosen by competition from among the proposals submitted by research students registered for higher degrees at Universities in the United Kingdom. 

All are welcome to attend Katherine’s lecture, which will be held in Room 243, Senate House, at 6 pm (advance online registration at https://modernlanguages.sas.ac.uk/events/event/21507).