Event Date: 26 March 2014
Main Lecture Theatre
Royal Holloway, University of London
Egham, Surrey TW20 0EX
Professor Claire Langhamer (Sussex) – The English in Love
Love has a history. It has meant different things to different people at different moments and has served different purposes. In 2014’s annual Bedford Centre Lecture, Professor Claire Langhammer suggests that something very distinctive happened to love, and to our understandings of it, in the middle years of the 20th century. Put simply, ordinary men and women began to expect a lot more from love and – because this was a period when most people sought (or felt compelled) to marry those they loved – they also expected more from marriage. Mid-century people increasingly looked for love at first sight, true love, a soulmate; they hoped to experience romance and a fulfilling sex life. Claire explores the implications of rising expectations for the way people lived their lives and looks at the unsettling questions that people faced as love triumphed over pragmatism.
Claire Langhamer is Professor of Modern British History at Sussex University where she has worked since 1998. Her research deals with the diverse ways in which ordinary people negotiated modernity in twentieth-century Britain. She is the author of Women’s Leisure in England 1920-1960 and The English in Love: The Intimate Story of an Emotional Revolution. She has also written on home, happiness, feelings about capital punishment and agony aunts.
Introduction by Dr Jane Hamlett (RHUL):