Reader in History and Deputy Dean of Humanities (Research), University of Essex

I studied History at Queen Mary, University of London, gaining my PhD in 2006. I spent two years at the University of Manchester, first as a University Teaching Associate and then as an ESRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow, before taking up a lectureship at Cardiff University in 2008. I joined the University of Essex in 2017.

I currently hold a Wellcome Trust Investigator Award in Humanities and Social Sciences for the project ‘Body, Self and Family: Women’s Psychological, Emotional and Bodily Health in Britain, c. 1960-1990’ (2017-2020). This major project explores how the sweeping social changes of the postwar period affected women’s understandings of bodily and emotional wellbeing. It examines women’s experiences at different stages of the life cycle, their relationships to different sources of expertise and authority, and how new reproductive and contraceptive technologies affected their lives. It builds on and interacts with previous British Academy-funded projects on the emotional labour of ‘agony aunts’ in postwar Britain, and on representations of health and illness in popular women’s magazines. The aim of all these projects is to create an intersectional history of gender, body and the self from the bottom-up rather than the top-down.

I am also working on two other projects. I am co-editing a collection on Emotions and the Researcher: Sites, Subjectivities and Relationships (Emerald, 2018) with Dr Dawn Mannay, a social psychologist based at Cardiff University. The collection brings together historians, sociologists, literary scholars, neuroscientists, physiotherapists, and medical researchers to explore the value and meaning of emotion in disciplines that continue to present academic work as rational, detached and ‘objective’, despite all the evidence to the contrary. My other sideline is a long-term project on psychoanalysis and everyday life in Britain, c. 1900-1950. This project explores understandings of consciousness and the self within mass culture. In 2014 I held a Harry Ransom Research Center Fellowship to undertake research on ‘Graham Greene, Psychoanalysis, and Popular Culture in Interwar Britain’.

Experience

  • –present
    Reader in History and Deputy Dean of Humanities (Research), University of Essex