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Hay Festival Talk will Explore the Changing Role of the Women's Institute in its Centenary Year

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The British Women’s Institute is more often associated with jam and Jerusalem than radical activity, but in a fascinating talk at this year’s Hay Festival, historian Professor Maggie Andrews will debunk some of these stereotypes.

Professor Andrews will explore the WI’s relationship with feminism from the formation of the organisation in 1915 up to the eve of British feminism’s renaissance in the late 1960s.

Her talk is part of a series at the Hay Festival, one of the world’s top literary events, sponsored by the University of Worcester. It will take place on Tuesday, May 31 at 10am.

Professor Andrews’ talk is titled ‘The Acceptable Face of Feminism: 100 Years of the Women’s Institute’ and is based on her recent book, of the same title. The Worcester-based Professor will explore the political and social initiatives that helped define the radical organisation since the First World War.

As with the book, her talk aims to challenge, not only common sense perceptions about the Women’s Institute, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, but also those about feminism, interrogating preoccupations with domestic spaces and skills.

Professor Andrews will consider the resurgence of interest in the WI amongst young women in the 21st century, and the relationship between this and the contemporary cultural enthusiasm for the domestic.

The Hay Festival is now in its 29th year and over 10 days in May and June attracts over 250,000 visitors to the small Herefordshire town of Hay-on-Wye.

As part of the University of Worcester’s 70th anniversary celebrations, it has sponsored a series of talks aimed, which also include:

Professor Jo Smith on ‘The Shape We’re In: Building Good Mental and Emotional Health’ on Tuesday, May 31 at 11.30am.

Professor David Green, Mick Donovan and Anne Hannaford will host a panel session on ‘Universities in the 21st Century: More and Better?’ on Wednesday, June 1, at 1pm.

Professor Lisa Jones and colleagues from the Bipolar Disorder Research Network, will be discussing our understanding of the condition on Thursday, June 2 at 10am.