University of Reading cookie policy

We use cookies on reading.ac.uk to improve your experience, monitor site performance and tailor content to you.

Read our cookie policy to find out how to manage your cookie settings.

Dr D-M Withers

Building location

Edith Morley

Areas of interest

I am an interdisciplinary scholar whose work puts archival and oral history sources in dialogue with social and cultural theory. I have many research interests, including:

  • Post-war publishing and business history, especially those of feminist publishers Virago Press. Virago Reprints and Modern Classics: The Timely Business of Feminist Publishing, published in Cambridge University Press’s Elements series in 2021, is the first study of Virago’s publishing to draw extensively on archive sources held at the British Library and Special Collections, University of Reading. My current research focuses on publishing in the post-war period, in particular the businesses of ‘populist’ publisher Paul Hamlyn. I am also Visiting Research Fellow and management board member of the Centre for Book Cultures and Publishing at the University of Reading.
  •  Archives, memory and transmission within feminist intellectual histories and generational debates. My monograph Feminism, Digital Culture and the Politics of Transmission was awarded the Feminist Studies Association Book prize in 2016.
  •  Culture, Activism and Organisation in Twentieth Century Feminist Social Movements. I co-wrote the coffee-table book The Feminist Revolution: the Struggle for Women’s Liberation, 1968-88, published by Smithsonian/Virago in 2018.
  •  Technics, the digital, pedagogy, literacy and the work of Bernard Stiegler. In 2017 I was co-investigator on the project Re-Imagining the Feminist Archive South, funded by the Brigstow Institute, which explored speculative pedagogical approaches to digital literacy and the archive.
  • Subjectivities and literary narratives in Kate Bush’s work. In 2019 I gave the opening keynote at This Woman’s Work, the first ever academic conference dedicated to Bush’s work. My article ‘Playing with time: Kate Bush's temporal strategies and resistant time consciousness’ was published in Popular Music in 2016. I am currently working on a new article that dives into the cultural pre-history of Kate Bush.
  •  Oral and Life History. As Research Fellow for the Business of Women’s Words: Purpose and Profit in Feminist Publishing (2018-21) I conducted interviews with feminist publishers and book trade professionals that are deposited in the prestigious National Life Stories collection. I was first introduced to Life History when working as a Research Assistant to Dr Glenn Jordan on his project Mothers and Daughters: Portraits from Multi-Ethnic Wales (2007-08) that was based at the (now sadly defunct) Butetown History & Arts Centre, Cardiff.
  • ‘Free’ Improvisation and diabolic aesthetics. In 2016, I organised the first – and what will likely be the last – UK tour for doyennes of feminist free improvision, Les Diaboliques. An article ‘Diabolic marks, organs and relations: exiting symbolic misery’ was published in Angelaki in 2019.
  • Curating feminist activism. I have curated two exhibitions about the cultural activism in the women’s liberation movement: Sistershow Revisited: Feminism in Bristol, 1973-75 (2011) and Music & Liberation (2012). I’ve also contributed curatorial content and consultancy to two critically acclaimed exhibitions, Still I Rise: Feminisms, Gender and Resistance, Act 3, Arnolfini, Bristol (2019) and Unfinished Business: the Fight for Women’s Rights, British Library (2020-21).

Alongside academic research and teaching, I am currently developing a slate of screenplays for television – dramatisations of feminist and queer histories and adaptations – and a reprint publishing project.

Teaching

In 2021/22 I am running the part 2 module The Business of Books.

I am also teaching on the core Masters module Materiality & Textuality and optional module Modern Literary Feminisms.

Selected publications

2021

Virago Modern Classics: The Timely Business of Feminist Publishing, Cambridge University Press, Publishing and Book Culture series.

Green spines, back story: delving into the early history of Virago reprints and modern classics. LSE Review of Books (18 Jun 2021). Blog Entry. https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/lsereviewofbooks/2021/06/18/green-spines-back-story-delving-into-the-early-history-of-virago-reprints-and-modern-classics/

Honno: the Welsh Women’s Press and the Cultural Ecology of the Welsh Publishing Industry, c.1950s-present,’ Women: A Cultural Review. https://doi.org/10.1080/09574042.2021.1973726.


2020

‘Recovering women’s history and traditions,’ Unfinished Business: The Fight for Women’s Rights, British Library Publishing, 180-200.

‘Enterprising Women: Independence, Finance and Virago Press, c.1976-1993’, Twentieth Century British History, https://doi.org/10.1093/tcbh/hwz044.

 

2019

‘The politics of the workshop: craft, autonomy and women’s liberation’, Feminist Theory, https://doi.org/10.1177/1464700119859756.

‘Laboratories of gender: women’s liberation and the transfeminist present’, Radical Philosophy, 2.04.

‘Diabolic marks, organs and relations: exiting symbolic misery,’ Angelaki, 24:5, https://doi.org/10.1080/0969725X.2019.1655277.

‘Wounding Poppies: hyper-commemoration and aesthetic interventions’, Critical Military Studies, https://doi.org/10.1080/23337486.2019.1575123.

‘Digital literacy in the age of the screen? Re-imagining the social pedagogy of the archive’, co-written with Maria Fannin in Nancy Vansieleghem, Joris Vlieghe and Manuel Zahn, eds, Education in the Age of the Screen: Possibilities and Transformations in Technology, London: Routledge, 127-140.

 

2018

The Feminist Revolution: The Struggle for Women’s Liberation, co-authored with Bonnie Morris with a foreword by Roxane Gay, Washington: Smithsonian Books/Virago.

‘The Meta-Data Diaries Part 1: The Feminist Archive’, Inscription, Regional State Archives, Gothenburg, Sweden, 177-204.

‘“Neither pure love nor imitating capitalism”: Euro WILD and the

Invention of Women’s Music Distribution in Europe, 1980-1982,’ Feminist Review, 120, 85-100.

‘DIY Institutions’ in Sarah Barker, Lauren Istvandity and Catherine Strong, eds, Routledge Companion to Popular Music History and Heritage, 294-303.

 

2017

‘Playing with time: Kate Bush’s temporal strategies and resistant time consciousness’, Popular Music, 36/1, 98-110.

 

2016

‘An archival feminist pedagogy: Unlearning and objects as affective knowledge companions’ with Maud Perrier, Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, 30:3, 355-366.

‘Theorising the Women’s Liberation Movement as Cultural Heritage’, Women’s History Review, 25, 847-862.

 

2015

Feminism, Digital Culture and the Politics of Transmission: Theory, Practice and Cultural Heritage, London: Rowman Littlefield International. Winner of the Feminist Studies Association 2016 book prize.