Tutor profile: Rachel P.
Subject: World History
‘All political thought is a response to particular historical problems and circumstances.’ Is this an accurate statement?
Note: This particular question was inspired by a module I studied at University based on political thought, though the inherently global nature of the question makes it relevant here. It is inevitable that the historical circumstances in which certain political texts were written will have some effect on the work that is produced. However, it would be presumptuous to suggest that all political thought is a response to this, especially as writers that lived through similar times came up with very different political theories. Ultimately, there are number of factors that can influence political thought, and historical context is only one of them. Just some of these other factors, which can be seen to have shaped the thought of political writers such as Aquinas and Aristotle, include religion (or lack thereof), education and personal circumstance.
Subject: US History
In what ways were women limited in the Civil Rights Movement and how did they overcome these limitations?
Note: Again, I focus on gender history as this is my particular area of interest, however obtained a first in a module on the Civil Rights Movement in general and have a competent knowledge of US History. Answer: This is a broad question, the depths of which cannot be answered in a paragraph, however, what is essential in understanding the role of women in the CRM is the context in which they were acting and living. Historian Belinda Robnett (key reading on this is her article '‘African American Women in the Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1965: Gender, Leadership and Micromobilisation,’ in the American Journal of Sociology) rightly points out that it should come as no surprise that women were overlooked in the CRM, as the women's liberation movement in the US did not emerge until the late 1960s and early 1970s. The most prominent ways in the which women were limited, therefore, lies in the exclusion of women from formal positions of leadership, the misdirection of credit to men for women's achievements and the attitudes towards women and what they should be within the movement (acting primarly as wives and mothers, as per King's opinion). Copious examples of these limitations can be seen across the movement, not least in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, where the actions of women were accredited to men. However, women acted in incredible ways to overcome these limitations, not least in bridge leadership (which Robnett discusses in her article, which should be considered key reading for this topic) and in directly confronting male leaders, particularly notable in the cases of Ella Baker and Septima Clark. Yet, what should be noted most about this topic is the fact that they managed to raise awareness of the issues they were facing as women, whilst still standing with the men who were undermining them against a society that discriminated against them for their race.
Subject: European History
Is World War I, although a catalyst women's suffrage in Britain, given too much credit, thus overlooking the efforts of individual women and grassroots organisations?
Note: my particular area of interest lies in gender history, specifically in modern Britain, hence the question above, however I have studied European history in depth and would be able to confidently tutor in a range of different period of study. Answer: This is a question certainly worth asking, albeit a complex one. There is no doubt that WWI culminated in undeniable changes in the life of women; Millicent Fawcett, leader of the NUWSS, boldly stated that 'The war revolutionised the industrial positions, it found them serfs and left them free'. Evidently, the suffragettes themselves recognised the war as a force for change, yet what is sometimes forgotten, especially in the ways in which this period is taught, is that the war did not act as some 'Free Pass' for female suffrage. It did not make void decades of sacrifice and hard work. With regards female suffrage, the War should never be viewed outside of the context of the work of the suffragettes and many individual women who fought hard for the vote.
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