Skip to main content
School of History

Dr Jane Freeland


Lecturer in History and Fellow of the Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7882 8375
Room Number: ArtsTwo, Room 2.03


I am an historian of women and gender in modern Germany and Europe. My research focuses on the history of feminism in the twentieth century, with a particular focus on activism against domestic violence, reproductive rights, and feminism and the media.


HST5391 - A Century of Extremes: Germany 1890 - 1990

Undergraduate Teaching

HST4309-Europe in a Global Context Since 1800
HST5324-A Century of Extremes: Germany 1890-1990
HST6750-Berlin in the Twentieth Century


Research Interests:

My research broadly examines the impact of 1960s feminism on contemporary discussions of gender justice and women’s rights.

My first book, Feminist Transformations and Domestic Violence in Divided Berlin, 1969-2002, examines feminist activism against domestic abuse in East and West Germany, focusing particularly on the movement to open women's shelters. Situating domestic violence activism within a broader history of feminism in post-war Germany, it traces the evolution of this movement both across political division and reunification and from grassroots campaign to established, professionalised social service. In doing so, it asks what popular and political support for domestic violence activism has meant for feminism and the advancement of women's rights more broadly. Examining the trajectory of feminism in Germany, Feminist Transformations reveals the limitations of gender equality as advancements in women's rights were often built on the reassertion of patriarchal gender roles.

I have also led a major research project on the interconnection of feminist movements and the media at the German Historical Institute London. The International Standing Working Group in Medialization and Empowerment examines the intersection of women’s rights and the media, assessing how the media has shaped ideas and practices of women’s empowerment and mobilization. It looks at the media circulation of ideas, concepts, images and films, and how they were received and actively appropriated by women. In so doing, it focuses on the function of modern media in spreading knowledge that guides action, but also on the ambivalence and limitations of this circulation of knowledge.

I am currently developing a new project on reproductive rights, and the movement of women across borders to access abortion.



Feminist Transformations and Domestic Violence in Divided Berlin, 1968-2002 (London: Oxford University Press, 2022).

Journal Articles

"Gendering Value Change: Domestic Violence and Feminism in 1970s West Berlin," German History, Vol. 38(4) (2020): 638-655.
“Creating Good Socialist Women: Continuities, Desire and Degeneration in Slatan Dudow’s The Destinies of Women,” Journal of Women’s History, Vol. 29(1) (2017): 87-110.
“Morals on Trial: State-Making and Domestic Violence in the East German Courtroom,” Perspectives on Europe, Vol. 44(1) (2014): 55-60.

Book Chapters

“Negotiating a Space for Women in the State: Domestic Violence in East Germany, 1971-1990,” Physical Violence in State Socialism. Edited by Thomas Lindenberger, Jan C. Behrends and Pawel Kolar. Stuttgart: Ibidem Press (forthcoming).
“Domestic Abuse, Women’s Lives and Citizenship: East and West Policies during the 1960s and 1970s,” Gendering Post-1945 German History: Entanglements. Edited by Friederike Brühöfener, Karen Hagemann and Donna Harsch (New York: Berghahn, 2019): 253-273.
“Women’s Bodies and Feminist Subjectivity in West Germany,” The Politics of Authenticity. Countercultures and Radical Movements across the Iron Curtain, 1968-1989. Edited by Joachim Häberlen, Mark Keck-Szajbel and Kate Mahoney (New York: Berghahn, 2019): 131-150.
“Communism and Queers in Europe,” Global Encyclopedia of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer History, edited by Howard Chiang, Anjali Arondekar, Marc Epprecht, Jennifer Evans, Ross Forman, Hanadi al-Samman, Emily Skidmore and Zeb Tortorici (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2018): 399-403.
“Homosexuality and the Science of History in Anglo-American Perspective,” Was ist Homosexualität: Forschungsgeschichte, gesellschaftlice Entwicklung und Perspektiven, edited by Florian Mildenberger, Jennifer Evans, Rüdiger Lautmann, and Jakob Pastoetter (Hamburg: Männerschwarm Verlag, 2014): 305-318.

Review Essays

“Tracing the History of Feminisms: Methods, Meanings, and Questions” Bulletin of the German Historical Institute London. Vol. XLIV (1) (2022): 67-79.
with Jennifer Evans, “Rethinking Sexual Modernity in Twentieth Century Germany” Social History, Vol. 37(3) (2012): 314-327.

Other Publications

“Marital Rape and Women’s Rights in West Germany,” History/Sexuality/Law Blog, part of the research group ‘Recht-Geschlecht-Kollektivität’ at the Free University of Berlin (2021).
“The Allure of the Archive: On Frustration and Comfort in the Historian’s Craft,” German Historical Institute London Blog (2020)
“How has the Media Shaped Feminism? An Example from the West German Women’s Movement,” Women’s History Network Blog (2020)
Alexandria Ruble, Scott Harrison, Jane Freeland, Adam Blackler and Julie Ault, “Teaching Effective Engagement: Some Strategies and Techniques,” AHA Today, American Historical Association (2017).
“Writing Their Stories: Women’s Survivorship and the History of Domestic Abuse,” VIDA Blog, Australian Women’s History Network (2016).


I welcome applications from candidates wishing to pursue doctoral research the history of women and gender in modern Europe and Germany, including but not limited to:

History of Feminism
20th Century Germany
History of the Media
East German history

Public Engagement

Coordinated online exhibition Forms, Voices, Networks: Feminism and the Media in Germany, India and the UK:

Interviewed for German national radio station Deutschlandfunk Kultur for a segment on 1968

Interviewed for the podcast, “Fernsehen und Feminismus – Von Massenmedien und Emanzipationsbewegungen,” for the series Knowledge Unbound.

Organized and moderated a roundtable discussion on the Legacies of Feminism in Germany and India at the German Historical Institute London.

Back to top