Women and Alcohol

Co-ordinators: Dorota Dias-Lewandowska; Pam Lock

The ‘Women and Alcohol‘ cluster has been formed to bring together the wide range of existing interests and expertise of DSN members on this topic. We are keen to stimulate, facilitate and develop conversations about the particular, gendered difference in representations of the relationship between women and alcohol, whether that be the drinking or abstinence of women, the cultural expectations that frame women as preservers of sobriety or moderation, changing notions of female expertise in the creation and connoirseurship of alcoholic drinks, or cultural differences between expectations of men and women in terms of drinking and drunkenness. We are aware that there is already some extremely interesting and diverse research going on and we would like to take this opportunity to bring together researchers with these shared interests to see whether there are any interesting synergies between these varied research areas. With this in mind, this cluster is intended to be interdisciplinary, spanning a broad chronology. We are also particularly keen to bring together research from a range of countries to better understand the cultural and national differences between these representations and to identify similarities and synergies. 

Research in this cluster is likely to focus on:  

  • Gender and particularly women‘s studies 
  • Concepts of identity 
  • Social and cultural norms 
  • Challenges to stereotypes and gendered assumptions, and acts of rebellion 
  • Excess, moderation and abstinence (eg. why is a drunken woman so differently perceived to a drunken man) 
  • The real, lived experience of women; the practicalities of drinking and drunkenness as a woman  
  • Publications and broadcasts about women and by women associated with drink 
  • The cultural responsibility placed on women regarding propriety, morality, and tradition as seen through expectations about their relationship to and with alcohol. 

Research Seminar 2 – Rules and Norms for female drinking – a global approach – 26 April 2020

Our next research seminar will focus on rules and norms about female drinking with papers from Hedvig Widmalm and Mareen Heyring and plenty of time for discussion afterwards. The papers are based on research on Sweden and German so there will also be the opportunity to look at comparisons between countries as we know many of you are very interested in this research avenue. We look forward to seeing you all on Monday 26th April at 13.00pm. 

The meeting will start promptly at 1pm (GMT) on Zoom (joining details by request – just e-mail us) so we will be online from 12.45pm so people can join and get set up in advance. The programme will be as follows (all timings are in London GMT time zone (don’t forget British summer time)): 

13.00 Hedvig Widmalm (Uppsala University) Women, alcohol and the Age of Freedom: how the regulations on brewing and selling brandy and beer affected women inthe mining town of Falun in Sweden, 1718 – 1750

13.15 Mareen Heying (University of Hagen) Social norms on female drinking in Germany around 1900

13.30 Discussion

13.50 Cluster plans – next steps

Research Seminar 1 – Women and alcohol during the 2020 pandemic lockdown – 30 November 2020


1.00pm Dr Abi Rose (University of Liverpool) Drinking in the Time of COVID

How has COVID impacted our alcohol use, and what are the factors that may have driven some of the gender differences? The talk will take a look around some of the more well-established links between gendered alcohol use and mental health to answer this question.

1.15pm Dr Emily Nicholls, (University of Portsmouth), Dr Dom Conroy, (University of East London) “After a day with a baby, I feel like you deserve a bottle of wine!” Drinking, gender and motherhood during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Drawing on recent qualitative research on drinking in the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic, this paper brings a gendered lens to bear on our emerging findings around ‘drinking in lockdown’. Gendered patterns around domestic drinking and beverage choice will be explored, along with the links between drinking, female friendship and motherhood.

1.30pm Questions and discussion

1.45pm Cluster forum, planning for next meeting

2.00pm Finish

Bios of Co-ordinators:

Dorota Dias-Lewandowska – historian, anthropologist, post doc at the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology Polish Academy of Science in Warsaw. Her research interest evolved from early modern history of alcohol (project: ‘Cultural history of French wine in Poland’) and culinary recipes (project: ‘Old Polish culinary recipes. Compilation and edition of dispersed source material’) to drinking cultures and discourses concerning sobriety and drunkenness (project: ‘The culture of drinking in Poland in the second half of the 18th century. Alcohol, consumption patterns and images of drinking’).

Pam Lock – literary scholar based at the University of Bristol, UK. Her research interests are in alcohol in Victorian literature and culture. She recently completed her doctoral thesis on ‘The Habitual Drunkard in Victorian Literature and Culture’ which included signficant focus on the fictionalisation of female drunkenness and the figure of the female drunkard. 

If you are interested in joining the cluster and being added to our mailing list please contact dsnwomencluster@gmail.com.