Introduction: Television for women - what new directions?

Rachel Moseley, Helen Wheatley, Helen Wood

Research output: Chapter in Book/Published conference outputChapter


This collection of essays comes at the end of a twelve-year journey. In 2004, we organised a workshop at the University of Warwick, to which we invited key scholars to talk with us about the kinds of questions that might need to be asked were we to embark upon a project to reinvigorate the study of television for women. Some of the key questions underpinning our subsequent AHRC-funded project ‘A History of Television for Women in Britain, 1947-1989’ (2010-14), and now in Television for Women: New Directions, came out of that two-day meeting: what were the parameters of the existing field and how might a richer history of women’s
programming inform that field? Why were we interested in television ‘for’ rather than television ‘and’ women, or television ‘by’ or ‘about’ women? What kinds of methodological approach would be needed, or preferable, in order to research television for women? It seemed to us that research on the relationship between women and television continued to proceed without an adequate history, and was based on key assumptions about the gendering of tastes. Our project picked up and moved on from the vital work on soap opera (Brunsdon, 1981, 2000; Modleski,1979; Geraghty, 1981, 1991) and its audiences (Hobson, 1982, 2003; Seiter et al.,
1989) in the 1980s and 1990s which aimed to ‘rescue’ women’s genres and women audiences from derision. Feminist work on ‘women’s genres’ continued into the 1990s with the prominence of the talk show (Masciarotte, 1991; Moorti, 1998; Shattuc, 1997; Wood, 2009), but when the theoretical shifts into poststructuralism began to argue that we should move beyond researching stable gender categories (e.g. Ang andHermes, 1991) and that the gendering of audience tastes was apparently less relevant than it had previously been considered to be (e.g. Gauntlett and Hill, 1999), there seemed to be a need to reflect. Was the field really stalling? Did we know all we needed to know about women’s relationship to television? If not, what new or reframed questions, in relation to the terms ‘woman’, ‘feminism’ and ‘television’, would be generated by the shifting context of the 2000s? Surely there were lacunae in the existing field?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTelevision for Women
Subtitle of host publicationNew Directions
EditorsRachel Moseley, Helen Wheatley, Helen Wood
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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