PhD Student Profile

Jane CoomberSewell

Jane CoomberSewell

PhD Student

School: School of Humanities

Campus: Canterbury

Project title

The published works of Joyce Grenfell and other contemporaneous female entertainers as socio-political commentators.

Biographical Note

Jane is a part time PhD student, combining her research interests with running a business with her wife and a busy family life. She is funded through the sweat of her own brow. Before her current incarnation, Jane had a successful Civil Service and Local Authority career, including reading her Masters Degree in Public Services Management at University of York.

Research Outline

Joyce Grenfell was, of her generation, one of Britain’s foremost female entertainers. She was the niece of Lady Nancy Astor, the first woman MP in Britain to take her seat, and undertook three tours of PAIForce (Persia and Iraq Force) during and after the Second World War. She was also a Christian Scientist. Therefore, my three major areas of enquiry are:

  1. Was Joyce Grenfell a feminist? There is no evidence that she was a Feminist with a big F – that is, politically active in the women’s movement, but there are indications she was an Egalitarian, which, as she experienced feminism, may lead one to believe that she was feminist in her actions if not her words.
  2. What impact did her work have on the soldiers she entertained in the Second World War, and conversely, what impact did her war experiences have on her later professional life?
  3. How did her private values intersect with her public persona? This part of the study will concentrate on her work with the Pilkington Commission, her attitude towards homosexuals in the entertainment industry, her later work on Ten to Eight (the precursor to Thought for the Day) and other religious broadcasting and debate.

In making these researches, it is important to examine the role of some of her contemporaries, both within and without the entertainment industry.

This work is important and relevant, as if we are to a consider a lacking of writing as evidence of the death of feminism however later resurrected, we are not giving credit to an army of pragmatic feminists who were too busy doing feminism to write about it.

Supervisory Team

  • Dr Andrew Butler (First supervisor)
  • Dr Stefania Ciocia (Second Supervisor)
  • Dr Caroline Oulton (Chair)

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Last edited: 13/12/2018 20:59:00