Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Slaughtering sacred cows : rebutting the narrative of decline in the British secular movement from the 1890s to 1930s
Author: Lutgendorff, Elizabeth Ann
ISNI:       0000 0004 7971 7484
Awarding Body: Oxford Brookes University
Current Institution: Oxford Brookes University
Date of Award: 2018
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
The historiography of the British secular movement ends abruptly after the death of one its most charismatic figures, Charles Bradlaugh. In the academic literature and the movement's own publications, the idea of decline in the movement has been pervasive. This dissertation counters that narrative and argues that there were secularists actively campaigning for secularist causes long into the twentieth century. It examines groups of secularists who were part of established secular organisations, and also those who had noted secularist principles but have not been traditionally associated with organised secularism. It also examines the confusion of terms that surround the history of secularism and how they are interrelated. The dissertation covers the period from the 1890s to the 1930s, with contextualization from the earlier nineteenth century movement. The first main point of discussion is secularist involvement in politics in the twentieth century, especially in relation to the Liberal Party and early Labour Party politics. The second chapter details secularist internationalism, looking at both traditional secularist organisations and those outside the movement. The third chapter examines individuals who expressed secular ideas in literature. The final chapter concerns women's rights, and the secularist case for contraception, suffrage and divorce. This dissertation concludes by exploring where additional research is needed and how secularist history can add context to twentieth century social movements. The thesis questions dominant assumptions of decline in the secular movement of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and provides an alternative thesis: that secularist activism evolved in new ways and assumed new forms, as it no longer had to fight the same battles as it did in the nineteenth century. It also highlights that the history is larger than the secularist organisations themselves. Finally, it argues that secularist history can help us to understand the wider secularisation narrative, in that secularism itself is contested and requires individuals to fight for secular inclusion in wider society.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral