A re-evaluation of Joyce Grenfell as socio-political commentator

PhD Thesis

Coombersewell, J. 2020. A re-evaluation of Joyce Grenfell as socio-political commentator. PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University School of Creative Arts and Industries
AuthorsCoombersewell, J.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification nameDoctorate of Phisophy

The objective of this thesis is to re-evaluate Joyce Grenfell and her monologues as sociopolitical commentary set within what the Wave Model of Feminism considers a dormant period. The challenges of the Wave Model are addressed, encompassing other models such as the Kaleidoscope model, in an attempt to reconcile the issues of the Wave Model with the realities of a splintered but active set of feminisms throughout Wartime and Reconstruction Britain.

This proposition is underpinned by a literature review covering feminism from the 1920s to the 1970s. This reveals a faulty acceptance in the record that feminism was dormant from the achievement of women’s suffrage in the UK and America until the mid-1960s. While I acknowledge that theory-based feminist writing from an Anglo-American perspective was lacking during this time, the record of women working in new fields, challenging the marriage bar and taking other activist steps suggests that this period is a time of activity that is currently overlooked; women doing feminism by acting upon and widening the opportunities available.

The theoretical framework and methodology have been refined throughout the analytical process. Using the 1953 translation of De Beauvoir’s The Second Sex as a primary feminist resource, and coming from an interpretivist standpoint, the research is framed by Foucauldian interpretations of power/knowledge and discourse analysis. An in-depth analysis of Grenfell’s creations concludes that her work is a socio-political commentary of great value to feminists and historians of feminism. It concludes that Grenfell was an astute observer, thinker and commentator with an awareness of women’s issues, who can be framed within a broad and strong feminist reading.

KeywordsJoyce Grenfell ; Sociopolitical commentator; Wave model of feminism
File Access Level
Supplemental file
File Access Level
Publication process dates
Deposited17 Feb 2021
Permalink -


Download files

Final thesis.pdf
File access level: Open

  • 93
    total views
  • 614
    total downloads
  • 3
    views this month
  • 12
    downloads this month

Export as