Feminized: A New Literary History of Women s Work

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Emily J. Hogg


University of Southern Denmark


DKK 3,560,600




Semper Ardens: Accelerate


Contemporary work is often described as 'feminized' - meaning that the conditions which were once primarily associated with women workers are now relevant across the work force. These conditions include temporary, informal and flexible work contracts, care work, emotional labour, and work that takes place in the home. This project will study twentieth-century literary representations of women's work in anglophone literature, arguing that the historical literary engagement with this topic can be used to develop theorisations of today's 'feminized' work world. The project will bring together literature from diverse anglophone contexts including the U.K., Nigeria and Kenya, to show how literature from the past can enrich understandings of contemporary work lives.


The project will contribute to new methods of literary historiography by showing that an archive of existing literary representations of women's work from Britain, sub-Saharan Africa and other anglophone contexts can gain new relevance for analysing the the contemporary feminization of labour. In addition, it will contribute to the discussion of feminized work beyond literary studies by showing how analysis of literary texts can produce new perspectives on the meanings of feminization.


The primary methodology is close reading: the detailed textual analysis of literary works focusing on their formal and thematic qualities. The project comprises 3 sub-projects, each of which focuses on a different global anglophone context, including British realist fiction and post-colonial African novels. For each sub-project, a group of literary texts will be selected as a focus on the basis of their engagements with feminized labour. Close readings of literary texts will be placed into dialogue with theoretical accounts of feminization from the social sciences.

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