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Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Together with Professors Daniel Monk (Birkbeck) and Rebecca Probert (Exeter), Jo Miles is co-convening a new (valedictory?) project on the divorce law introduced by the Divorce Reform Act 1969. The inter-disciplinary project, from which it is planned to produce an edited collection of essays, comes at a critical juncture in the development of English divorce law as the 50th anniversary year of the last reform is accompanied by government support for a new radical reform.

The enactment of the 1969 Act was a landmark moment in family law. It had a significant impact on legal practice and was followed by a dramatic increase in divorce. It also had a symbolic significance, reflecting changes in social attitudes. But the law’s inherent tensions also reveal the prevailing contestations about public morality and ambivalence about the reforms. Alongside and in keeping with the other key 'permissive' reforms of the era (in particular the decriminalisation of abortion and 'homosexuality' in 1967), radical change went hand in hand with a degree of continuity.

The workshop for the project is funded by the Society of Legal Scholars' small projects and events fund. Its aim is to explore the background to the 1969 Act, its impact on law and society, and the changing perceptions and experiences of divorce over the past fifty years. With divorce reform in the news and once again on the political agenda, the workshop will also provide an opportunity to reflect on the current state of play.

In collaboration with the Birkbeck Institute of the Moving Image and the Birkbeck Institute of Social Relations, the workshop will include a screening of the film 'The Divorce of Lady X' (1938, Dir, Whelan) followed by a reception.

The workshop will take place on Monday 16 and Tuesday 17 September 2019, at: Birkbeck, University of London, London WC1.

There are a few spare slots in the programme for papers. Academics from all disciplines interested in presenting a paper at the workshop are invited to contact one of the convenors no later than 1st May 2019. Jo Miles can be contacted on