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Dr Liz Barnes

Liz Barnes
  • Department Social Media Lead
  • Teaching:
    • HS1HN: ‘History Now’
    • HS1RUS: Rape in the United States
    • HS2PFD: ‘Preparing for your Dissertation’
    • HS2O62: ‘From Revolution to Reconstruction: A Social History of the Nineteenth-Century USA’
    • HS3T103: ‘The American Civil War’

Building location

Edith Morley

Areas of interest

I am primarily interested in histories of sexual violence, particularly in relation to the social changes ushered in by the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States in the mid nineteenth century. More broadly, my research centres on slavery in the US South, the Civil War, and the Reconstruction period, with a focus on how Black women navigated the constraints imposed by racism and patriarchy.

My PhD thesis examined Black women's relationships with three authorities in their lives: Black men, law enforcers, and agents of the federal government. I am currently converting this work into a monograph. Additionally, I have published on the evolution of policing in the United States and the nature of gendered relationships within formerly enslaved families and communities.

Postgraduate supervision

I am interested in supervising MA and PhD dissertations and theses on any element of slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction in the United States. I am particularly keen to work with students who are interested in issues of gender, race, and sexuality in this period.

Current Supervision:

Karim Wafa (2023-): ‘Allah from the Ancestral Land to the Plantations: The Role of Islam in the Lives and Struggles of Enslaved Africans in the Antebellum American South


  • HS1HN: ‘History Now’
  • HS1RUS: Rape in the United States
  • HS2PFD: ‘Preparing for your Dissertation’
  • HS2O62: ‘From Revolution to Reconstruction: A Social History of the Nineteenth-Century USA’
  • HS3T103: ‘The American Civil War’

Research centres and groups

Research projects

I am currently converting my PhD thesis into a book provisionally titled Voicing Violation: Rape and Race in Slavery and Freedom


After completing my undergraduate degree in History at Queen Mary, University of London, I moved to University College London for an MA in United States Studies: History and Politics. It was during my Masters studies that I discovered my fascination with the Civil War Era United States. After a year out – which involved some fun and strife working at Asda and then a secondary school – I came to Reading for a PhD, funded by the AHRC via the SWW DTP. I taught throughout my PhD and stayed on to continue teaching after my viva in 2020. I have also worked at Queen Mary and at St Mary’s Twickenham, teaching on modules about censorship  in American history; public history; and the transatlantic slave trade.

Awards and honours

External Funding:

  • 2023: AHRC South West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership Alumni Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • 2021: British Association for American Studies (BAAS) Development Fund to support Gendered State Violence Project
  • 2020/21: Women’s History Network ECR Fellowship
  • 2019: Royal Historical Society Research Support Grant
  • 2019: BAAS Conference Support to host SHAW (Society for the History of Women in the Americas) annual conference
  • 2018: Royal Historical Society (RHS) Conference Organisation Grant to host Histories of Gender Postgraduate Conference
  • 2018: Women’s History Network Small Grants Postgraduate Scheme to host Histories of Gender Postgraduate Conference
  • 2018: BAAS Abraham Lincoln Research Award
  • 2018: BrANCH (British American Nineteenth Century Historians) Peter J Parish Memorial Fund Research Award



  • 2022/23: Teaching Excellence Award for the Humanities, nominee.
    • ‘Liz was excellent in teaching the American Civil War. Her teaching style helped me to think about the Civil War in different ways. Through teaching Historical Approaches and My Dissertation, she made a compelling case for using fiction as a source.’
  • 2021/22: Teaching Excellence Award for the Humanities winner.
    • ‘Elizabeth Barnes has had a really impactful curve on my learning. Being my first lecturer of second year history, she was a massive inspiration to start learning again after the previous year of doubtful COVID times. She was very inspiring to listen to, she was very knowledgeable and incredibly friendly.’
    • ‘Liz has been extremely patient and supportive of me and my entire class as we adjusted to learning in person having never experienced it prior to last term. Her kindness in lectures is genuine and she always makes an effort to make them engaging.’
  • 2019: Departmental Nominee, University of Reading Postgraduate Researcher of the Year
  • 2019: University of Reading Fairbrother Lecture

Professional bodies/affiliations

  • Secretary of the British American Nineteenth Century Historians (BrANCH)
  • Associate Fellow of the Royal Historical Society


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