I joined the History Department at Sheffield in September 2006. Before this I read history at Merton College, Oxford, and stayed there to study for my D.Phil. In 2002 I took up a Leverhulme Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Centre for Contemporary British History (CCBH), Institute of Historical Research, University of London. I remained at the CCBH to hold a three-year British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship.
My main research interests are in the political, social and cultural history of twentieth-century Britain. I have worked extensively on the national popular press in the decades after 1918, examining the ways in which newspapers both reflected and shaped attitudes to gender, sexuality and class. My first monograph explored press debates about femininity and masculinity in the inter-war period. My second book, Family Newspapers? Sex, Private Life and the British Popular Press 1918-1978, explored the role of the press as a source of information and imagery about sex, morality and personal relationships. I am also interested in the history of press regulation, and conducted a project examining the Calcutt Report of 1990 and the establishment of the Press Complaints Commission.
Beyond my work on the press, I am interested in popular attitudes to politics; cultural hierarchies, particularly the category of the ‘middlebrow’; the circulation of knowledge about sex; and the social and cultural changes in Britain in the 1950s and 1960s.
I am currently working on various projects involving historical approaches to journalism. With Professor Martin Conboy I am currently writing Tabloid Century, a thematic history of the twentieth century press to be published by Peter Lang. I am also working on a collaborative project analysing sexual instruction in the periodical press since the 17th century. In 2009 I founded, with Professor Conboy, the Centre for the Study of Journalism and History.
I am also in the early stages of a project exploring popular attitudes to politics in modern Britain, focusing in particular on understanding which political issues were perceived to connect with ‘everyday life’.
I am involved in the Stories of Activism project, which explore Sheffield's rich history of activism and collects campaign stories, memories and objects from 1960 to the present.