Library Dissertation Showcase

Challenging Thatcherism and its legacies in Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls (1982) and Serious Money (1987)

  • Year of Publication:
  • 2021

On the 4th of May 1979, Margaret Thatcher was elected as the first female prime minister of Great Britain. During Thatcher’s eleven years in governance (1979-1990), Caryl Churchill, who is a self-described socialist feminist (Fitzsimmons, 1987), achieved an unprecedented degree of success with two of her most well-known plays: Top Girls (1982) and Serious Money (1987). Both plays remain important in the British theatre canon. The Thatcher administration, which underpins Top Girls and Serious Money, saw neoliberal ideology, which venerates free-market logic and generates self-invested human beings, increasingly take hold of British society. Neoliberalism arguably remains the reigning ideology of our era and has branched out to include notions of feminist thought, culminating in the recent germination of “neoliberal feminism”. Neoliberal feminism is an individualised discourse that produces women who are entrepreneurial and self-optimising – in contrast to Churchill’s socialist feminism which is informed by Marxism. Enduring neoliberalism, and the more recently termed ‘neoliberal feminism’ can be seen as the legacies of Thatcher. Churchill’s Top Girls and Serious Money continue to critique these legacies, building on their challenge to Thatcherism of their original production contexts.

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