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‘Total Liberation’: Feminism, Socialism and Red Rag (1972-1980) - PhD opportunity

Fully funded
Contract 3 years

PhD opportunity

‘We are in no mood’, stated the first editorial of British feminist-socialist periodical Red Rag: a Magazine of Liberation (1972-1980), ‘to wait for socialism to bring us liberation.’  Red Rag brought together and shaped leading post war feminists, and provided cutting edge analysis of key issues around gender, class and sexuality, but has been overlooked by historians.

This fully funded PhD project, run in collaboration between The University of Manchester and People’s History Museum (PHM), seeks to fill that gap.  The project challenges the usual parameters of labour and feminist history respectively by grappling with the particularly close relationship between socialism and second wave feminism in Britain.  The project contends that the various positions and debates in Red Rag not only anticipated later feminist works, but remain instructive for radical social movements now.

The key questions posed by the PhD thesis will be:

  • what was Red Rag?
  • how did it respond to its moment?
  • why does it matter, now?


Reflecting the research methodologies of the supervisory team and the pedagogical ethos of PHM – an institution which promotes learning as social change – the project therefore links past and present.  It integrates: theoretical analysis of questions of gender, capital and class; periodical analysis (close reading of the context, form and content of Red Rag and its articles, pictures, poems and stories); and empirical historiography (analysis of documents detailing the journal’s production, distribution and reception).

The Labour History Archive & Study Centre (LHASC) at PHM holds the unique primary sources necessary to cast light on these relationships, including a complete run of Red Rag and related periodicals (Women Today and Tomorrow, Marxism Today, The Link).  The PhD student will spend on average four days a month at PHM.  In addition to writing a PhD thesis, they will conduct various tasks related to cataloguing and promoting PHM’s holdings in feminist history, benefitting from expert training in archival research, digitisation, cataloguing and public engagement.

Qualifications needed

An undergraduate degree at first/upper second class level and a Master’s degree (completed with an overall average of 65% or higher [merit], with a minimum of 65% in the dissertation; or in its last year with an overall average of 65% or higher [merit]) in one or more of the following disciplines: English, Women’s Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Cultural History or cognate subjects related to the project’s theme.

International students will have to have equivalent classifications.  The North West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership (NWCDTP) bases its assessments of qualifications attained outside the UK on the British Council’s National Recognition Information Centre (NARIC) guide.  We are committed to working with students from under-represented communities and those from non-traditional academic backgrounds.


The successful candidate will receive:

  • Home/EU fees at the standard Research Councils UK (RCUK) rate.  The studentship will cover tuition fees up to the Home rate (currently £4,596; further rates subject to confirmation from UKRI). The University of Manchester is committed to cover the remaining fees should an international student be the successful candidate
  • A maintenance grant of £17,668 (the level of the grant for 2023-2024 and the following years is subject to confirmation from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).)



Both home and international students are eligible to apply to this scheme.

To be classed as a home student, candidates must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a UK national (meeting residency requirements), or
  • Have settled status, or
  • Have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or have indefinite leave to remain or enter


If a candidate does not meet the criteria above, they will be classed as an international student.

For further information on residential eligibility refer to the AHRC webpage.

How to apply

Applicants should send an email to with the following information by 5.00pm on Monday 6 February 2023:

  • Academic CV (two pages maximum) including two named referees, one of whom should be your most recent academic tutor/supervisor.  Referees will be contacted only if you are shortlisted
  • Copy of first degree and Master’s degree transcripts (or anticipated grade if applicable)
  • A sample of your strongest written work (6,000 words maximum)
  • Letter of application (two pages maximum) outlining your suitability for the studentship and how you would anticipate approaching the research.  This should include the research questions that you would focus on and the way in which you would develop them


If shortlisted, you will be asked to apply formally for a PhD place at The University of Manchester.

You will work with the following team of supervisors:

  • Prof Daniela Caselli, The University of Manchester
  • Dr Ben Harker, The University of Manchester
  • Dr Shirin Hirsch, Researcher, People’s History Museum
  • Simon Sheppard, Archive Manager, People’s History Museum
  • Jenny Mabbott, Head of Collections & Engagement, People’s History Museum


If you have any queries or would like to discuss this opportunity further, please contact Daniela Caselli by email at

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