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Technology & Engineering History

In a New Light

Histories of Women and Energy

edited by Abigail Harrison Moore & R.W. Sandwell

McGill-Queen's University Press
Initial publish date
Jul 2021
History, Gender Studies, Labor
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jul 2021
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Jul 2021
    List Price

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In the early 1970s, a German study estimated that women expended as many calories cleaning their coal-mining husbands' work clothes as their husbands did working below ground, arguably making the home as much a site of industrialized work as factories and mines. But while energy studies are beginning to acknowledge the importance of social and historical contexts and to produce more inclusive histories of the unprecedented energy transitions that powered industrialization, women have remained notably absent from these accounts.

In a New Light explores the vital place of women in the shift to fossil fuels that spurred the Industrial Revolution, illuminating the variety of ways in which gender and energy intersected in women's lives in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Europe and North America. From their labour in the home, where they managed the adoption of new energy sources, to their work as educators in electrical housecraft and their protests against the effects of industrialization, women took on active roles to influence energy decisions.

Together these essays deepen our understanding of the significance of gender in the history of energy, and of energy transitions in the history of women and gender. By foregrounding women's energetic labours and concerns, the authors shed new light on energy use in the past and provide important insights as societies move towards a carbon-neutral future.

About the authors

Abigail Harrison Moore is professor of art history and museum studies in the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds.

Abigail Harrison Moore's profile page

R.W. Sandwell is associate professor in the Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, and author of Contesting Rural Space: Land Policy and Practices of Resettlement on Saltspring Island, 1859–1891.

R.W. Sandwell's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"In a New Light really is a novelty in energy history: it helps push energy concerns into established social and gender history, and it's a book that we really need to have." Paul Warde, University of Cambridge and author of The Invention of Sustainability: Nature and Destiny, c. 1500–1870

"There are very few works available that combine energy history and women's history. There is no book on the specific role of women in the process of energy system transformation. In a New Light is innovative in its approach and is a great and long-overdue enrichment of the research landscape." Melanie Arndt, University of Freiburg

Other titles by R.W. Sandwell