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Find information about our current PhD students and the research projects they're working on.

 

Amy Austin

a.l.c.austin@pgr.reading.ac.uk

Transgender Identities in Britain 1870-1950

Supervision:
  • Professor David Stack

My research focuses on transgender identities in Britain from 1870 to the 1940s. Through an analysis of medical literature, legal documentation, press coverage and autobiographical material I aim to discover to what degree there was a cultural and medical awareness of trans identities and how these were expressed and treated. I am interested in the changing medical treatments, from hormonal therapy to the advent of sex reassignment surgery and the influence of Magnus Hirschfeld's pioneering Institute on British medical practice. I explore the work of British sexologists, particularly Havelock Ellis and John Symonds Addington with regards to gender-crossing behaviours and compare both the medical and cultural experiences for transmen and transwomen. I engage with debates surrounding terminology and how best to categorise gender fluidity in a period that predates modern terms. I also examine the extent to which a transgender subculture existed in Britain and the outlets for and modes of expressing gender variance before medical procedures were available.

 

Francesca Baldwin

f.baldwin@pgr.reading.ac.uk

Gender, Militarism and Generational Legacies of War: Female Narratives of Civil Conflict in Tigray, Ethiopia

Supervision:
  • Dr Heike Schmidt

My research aims to historicise civil conflict in Tigray since 1974 through the lens of women's experiences and memories, unpacking concepts of identity, ethnicity, and generational legacies of war in the Ethiopian context. Methodologically rooted in feminist theory, African history and sociological approaches, the research combines analysis of original oral history interviews, substantive archival research and grounded theory methodology to contribute historical analysis of claims of gender-based violence and genocide in Tigray by considering a post-war ideology of militarism, detailing the critically under-researched legacies of war, and tracing the historic patterns resulting in the current violence against women in Tigray. In doing so, it reflects on gender as the stage and language of militarism in the ever-emerging humanitarian crisis threatening stability in the Horn of Africa.

 

Richard Balzano

r.m.balzano@pgr.reading.ac.uk

Aid, Oil, and Human Rights: Re-evaluating U.S.-Guatemalan Relations, 1981-1986

Supervision:

  • Dr Mara Oliva


My areas of interest include U.S. foreign policy and inter-American relations, Latin America's Cold War and the Central American theatre, Guatemala's civil war (1954-1996), human rights, extractive development and foreign aid. My doctoral research considers U.S.-Guatemalan relations from 1981 to 1986, examining the political economy of bilateral relations and the influence of Guatemala''s hydrocarbon potential on national interest and diplomacy. The project also explores the Guatemalan military repurposing of economic and development aid for military initiatives, contributing to ongoing human rights violations.

 

Amie Bolissian

amie.bolissian@pgr.reading.ac.uk

The Aged Patient in Early Modern England, c.1570-1730

Supervision:
  • Dr. Hannah Newton
  • Professor Helen Parish

My Wellcome-funded doctoral research investigates the experiences of ageing patients in early modern England, c.1570-1730. Contrary to common assumptions, approximately 20% of the adult population was aged over 60 in this period. My study asks how doctors and laypeople understood and treated the infirmities of this neglected demographic, and seeks to uncover the impact of these conditions on the lives and emotions of sufferers and their families. Drawing on sources such as published medical texts, diaries, and doctors' casebooks, my research will shed fresh light on understandings of the body and emotions in this period, challenging assumptions such as the masculinization of old women, and the resignation of older people and their loved ones to their physical and mental maladies.

 

Barbara Berrington

b.berrington@pgr.reading.ac.uk

Performance as subject and method in the frescoes of Fra Angelico at San Marco

Supervision:
  • Professor Paul Davies

This dissertation proposes an approach to Quattrocento art which uses techniques and theories drawn from performance. In doing so, it acknowledges the interconnected nature of performance and all other art forms. The study examines the frescoes of Fra Angelico in the Convent of San Marco, deploying ideas used by professional performers in the theatre today. It links together recent research by movement specialists, performance artists and academics by anthropologists, psychologists and neurologists and couples these with the studies undertaken by art historians. It unpicks concepts like role and dynamic movement patterns, and then back-applies them to illuminate the rationale behind Fra Angelico's artistic choices. Wider research interests include the application of performance approaches to other forms of Renaissance art practice: and to work by Botticelli, Piero della Francesca, Mantegna etc.

 

Caroline Bourne

c.bourne@pgr.reading.ac.uk

The Impact of the Normans on the Gower Peninsula

Supervision:
  • Dr Elizabeth Matthew
  • Dr Aleks Pluskowski

My doctoral research project explores the Norman conquest and colonisation of South Wales in the twelfth century, with particular focus on the Gower peninsula. As historical sources for Gower are limited for that time, by taking a multi-discipline approach and focusing on a distinct geographical area, the aim of the study is not only to identify how the Normans achieved their conquest there, but the extent of the impact they had on the lives of the Welsh people in that region. Was there relative continuity for these Welsh communities or did the Normans enforce major changes on the inhabitants? As a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Gower peninsula is relatively undeveloped, therefore it is possible to study settlement patterns within the landscape and how these relate to Norman architecture, such as castles and churches.

 

David Cardillo

d.cardillo@pgr.reading.ac.uk 

The Relationships Between the United States and the Italian Right-Wing During the Nixon Administration
 

Supervision:
  • Professor Mara Oliva
  • Professor Patrick Major 


My research examines the relationships between the United States and the Italian right-wing during the years of Nixon Administration, from 1969 to 1974. My aim is to demonstrate how the wave of terrorist attacks and the attempted coups that destabilized Italy and threatened its democracy between the 1960s and 1970s are to be traced back to an effective collaboration established between the Italian right-wing groups and the American political and military sectors. My research traces back to the final stages of World War II, with the first contacts established between the Office of Strategic Services, which at the time was the intelligence service of the United States, and the military officers of the Italian Social Republic, the fascist state founded in northern Italy by Benito Mussolini immediately after the armistice signed between Italy and the Anglo-American allies on 8 September 1943. With the end of World War II and the beginning of the Cold War, the United States and the Italian far-right heir of fascism found themselves having a common enemy in the Italian Communist Party, and it is the purpose of my research to explain how the perception of the danger the latter represented for their respective interests led the two former enemies to join forces and to cooperate in the fight against the communists.

This collaboration has had various evolutions over time, until it reached its peak in the terrorist season that coincided with the years of the Nixon Administration, and in which the investigations of the judiciary Italy highlighted the involvement of American officers serving at the Headquarters of the Allied Land Forces Southern Europe in Verona. It is my wish that I will be able to provide an exhaustive history of a fundamental chapter in the history of the Cold War, which was the destabilization carried out in Italy by the far-right, at the turn of the 1960s and 1970s, in order to neutralize the Italian Communist Party.  


Claire Collins

c.collins2@pgr.reading.ac.uk

Experiencing pregnancy and childbirth in late medieval England

Supervision:
  • Professor Anne Lawrence
  • Dr Elizabeth Matthew

My thesis aims to present an improved understanding of the experience of pregnancy and childbirth in late medieval England, using interdisciplinary evidence for a holistic approach. To this end, I am consulting a range of sources including medical texts, private letters, literature, miracle stories, pastoral manuals and chronicles. My thesis topic developed from my interests in social history, particularly that of women, and the complex relationship between magic, medicine and religion in the medieval period.

 

Frances Cook

F.M.Cook@pgr.reading.ac.uk

Sanctity and Material Culture: Devotion to St Margaret of Antioch in late medieval England

Supervision:
  • Professor Anne Lawrence Mathers
  • Professor Paul Davies

My project considers lay devotion to St Margaret of Antioch through a discussion of artefacts and objects associated with her cult in a variety of media, for example wall paintings, Books of Hours and stained glass. Aspects of patronage, interpretation of the saintâ's legend and devotional practices are examined in order to explore the intersections between piety, sanctity and gender.

 

Aisha Djelid

 a.djelid@pgr.reading.ac.uk 

Forced Reproduction in the Antebellum South, 1808-1865

Supervision:
  • Professor Emily West
  • Dr Rohan Deb Roy

My research examines the forced reproduction of enslaved men and women in the antebellum South as a means of sexual exploitation. Forced reproduction was an informal practice where enslavers compelled, either subtly or violently, enslaved men and women to have sexual relationships to produce children for profit. By stereotyping black women as hypersexual, enslavers forced them to procreate with multiple enslaved men, either through marriage or through rape. My research focuses on the methods employed by enslavers to force enslaved couples together, and the impact that this had on concepts of masculinity, parenthood, and marriage. I primarily use sources from formerly enslaved men and women, such as interviews and autobiographies, who witnessed or experienced incidents of forced reproduction. Through this, I highlight how forced reproduction was a prevalent, and often violent, form of sexual labour experienced by most enslaved people. 

 

Andy Ford

andrew.ford@pgr.reading.ac.uk

The Royal Forest Under Henry III, 1227-72

Supervision:

  • Professor Adrian Bell

My research examines the role of the royal forest during the reign of Henry III from the time the king reached his majority in 1227 until his death in 1272. I am particularly interested in examining the multiple different purposes of the forest from the perspective of the crown and how these fit into a broader political narrative of the reign and of Henry III's kingship. My research examines the forest as a source of raw materials for the crown, of royal revenue and of patronage through the award of gifts and offices in its administration. In the context of the Forest Charter, I am also researching the extent to which Henry sought to assert royal authority over the forest and the extent to which he was prepared or obliged to make concessions.

 

Daniel Frost

d.j.frost@pgr.reading.ac.uk

Labour and the Left in a suburban context: politics, identity and culture in Croydon, 1956-1994

Supervision:
  • Professor Matthew Worley, (University of Reading)
  • Professor Andrew Thorpe (University of Exeter)

Daniel is researching left-wing politics in Croydon in the latter twentieth-century, examining the spaces and places of activism and studying the rise of 'identity politics' and new social movements in a local context. He is interested in the experiences of left-wing activists in a place that was electorally Conservative-dominated, and the ways in which they negotiated Croydon's various representations as dreary suburbia, 'an expression of pure capitalism', and a racially-divided London borough with an 'inner city' of its own. I'm funded as part of the SWW DTP.

 

Amy Gower

amy.gower@pgr.reading.ac.uk

Conflict and Conformity: Feminism, Agency and Gender Inequality in English Secondary Education, 1970-2000

Supervision:
  • Dr Natalie Thomlinson (University of Reading)
  • Dr Grace Huxford (University of Bristol).

My doctoral research project explores gender, feminism and schooling in English comprehensive and grammar schools between 1970 and 2000, by investigating experiences of female students, classroom practices of teachers, and institutional policy. I am specifically focused on Reading and Inner London, and in particular am interested in how the politics of local authorities also shaped girls education in these two areas. Most importantly for this project, I aim to examine how 'ordinary' girls engaged with their education and British feminism, and how they negotiated ideas of gender and girlhood in their everyday lives. More broadly, I am interested in the histories of youth, childhood, sexualities, girlhood, popular culture and resistance. I am currently recruiting participants for oral history interviews, and would welcome inquiries from women who attended secondary school in Reading or Inner London at any point between 1970 and 2000, who would be interested in discussing their experiences with me.

 

Mark Hewett

m.hewett@pgr.reading.ac.uk

Philip I and the Church: Ruling France in the Age of Gregorian Reform

Supervision:

  • Professor Rebecca Rist
  • Professor Lindy Grant

My research investigates interactions between king and Church during the reign of Philip I of France (1060-1108). I am looking at the ways in which Philip negotiated and was forced to come to terms with the new religious climate of Gregorian reform. This includes consideration of his relations with prelates such as Ivo of Chartres and Hugh of Die, the patterns of his religious patronage and his attitudes towards papal power and the hot issues of simony, clerical marriage and lay investiture. Philip's famously controversial marriage to Bertrada of Montfort will also be examined, as will his response to the advent of crusading. Through scrutinising Philip's actions, aims and anxieties in these contexts, I hope to unpack his religious preoccupations and re-evaluate the validity of the historical narrative around his reign.

 

Shingi Hopkins  

s.hopkins@pgr.reading.ac.uk 

Decolonisation through transitional justice. Land and Liberation in Zimbabwe: Insurgent Memories and Discourses of Democracy 2000-2008

Supervision:
  • Dr Heike Schmidt 
  • Dr Natalie Thomlinson 


My research explores African women’s experiences of land reform in post-colonial Zimbabwe which began in 2000. In doing so, my project assesses the intersection of decolonisation and black feminism impacting agency in a socio-economic context of women in a neo-liberal market. My project combines the oral testimonies of African women who were part of the land reform movement and archival material from international humanitarian organisations and government officials. These testimonies will also enable an examination of the instrumental roles of trade, politics and identity in land reform and how they affected the decolonisation process in Zimbabwe. 

 

Gareth Jones

g.r.jones@pgr.reading.ac.uk 

The Duke and his Land Agent: The Duke of Wellington, George North and the Stratfield Saye Estate, 1892-1936

Supervision:
  • Dr Jeremy Burchardt

George Frederic North was Land Agent at the Duke of Wellington's estate at Stratfield Saye from 1892 to 1936. My research examines Norths management of the balance between professional and personal relationships with those he worked and lived with: his employers and their representatives/advisers; his staff, estate craftsmen and tenants; the community in which he lived at Stratfield Saye; and his fellow professionals in the Land Agent fraternity. How did the nature of these relationships change over time and to what extent were external factors a more dominant force for change? How successful was North in managing that change and in meeting the expectations of those around him?

 

 

Peter Jolly

p.d.jolly@pgr.reading.ac.uk

Meta-narrative or micro-history: a census-based study of domestic service in Edwardian rural Berkshire
 

Supervision:
  • Dr Jeremy Burchardt
  • Dr Jacqui Turner

My research is a quantitative study of domestic servants in nine Berkshire communities, ranging from the small village to market towns such as Wallingford and Wokingham. It is based around five themes which help to unpick the place of service within these communities: the backgrounds of Berkshire domestics; the part that migration played in the servant economy; how the age structure of the servant demographic was linked to seniority and responsibility; the types of households that engaged these servants; and, finally, the alternatives to domestic service for young women growing up in rural Berkshire 

 

 

Melanie Khuddro 

melanie.khuddro@pgr.reading.ac.uk 

The dissemination of Christian Science among early female members, 1880-1930 

Supervision:
  • Dr. Jacqui Turner 


My research explores the emergence of a matriarchal Church in various masculine contexts at the turn of the century, including American Protestantism, coverture, property rights, and British politics. The objective of my thesis is to demonstrate a consistency is in the feminist output of Christian Science that has thus far been the topic of controversy in academic literature. 

 

 

Fiona Lane 

f.h.lane@pgr.reading.ac.uk 

Municipal Rent Strikes in England in 1939: The Significance of Women’s Co-operative Action
 

Supervision:
  • Dr. Jacqui Turner 


The year 1939 witnessed a rash of rent strikes, from tenants in the East End of London who refused to pay their private property owners, to mortgage strikers who defaulted on payment to their building societies because of substandard construction of new houses, to municipal tenants on corporation housing estates who protested rent rebate schemes or rent increases. There have been very few studies of municipal rent strikes in 1939 and most have concentrated on the role of the CPGB. My thesis examines the actions of the female participants, how they were treated and regarded by the authorities and contemporaries, and what this demonstrated about their position in society. 

 

 

Helen Lockhart

s.h.lockhart@pgr.reading.ac.uk  

Elizabeth, 6th Baroness Craven's public position in society, in terms of the wider historical context of female autobiographical writing and changing attitudes to women in the late Eighteenth Century and early Nineteenth Century.

Supervision:
  • Professor Kate Williams
  • Dr Jacqui Turner

This PhD illuminates the public identity of Elizabeth, 6th Baroness Craven, against a background of intense social and political change, within the wider historical context of female autobiographical writing and changing attitudes to women in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. It establishes the progressive nature of her Memoirs, published in 1826 and her travel writing A Journey Through the Crimea to Constantinople, written in 1786 and published in 1789. There are no previous academic researches which provide comprehensive analysis of Lady Craven's public identity through her Memoirs and travel writing in terms of gender, genre and authorship. My PhD is also the first to provide comprehensive analysis of Lady Craven's portraits and country house in terms of image, status, social and cultural identity to support the claims made about her public identity through my analysis of her Memoirs and travel writing.

 

 

Alba Maria Lopez

a.lopez@pgr.reading.ac.uk

albamaria.lopez@e-campus.uab.cat

El origen moderno del nuevo mundo: migraciones y poblamiento original de America en autores de los siglos XVI y XVII. Modern origin of the New World: migrations and first American settlers in XVIth and XVIIth authors.

Supervision:
  • Dr Rachel Foxley (University of Reading)
  • Bernat Hernandez

My research is about the theories about those people who came into America before 1492, year of Christopher Columbus discovery. It is principally based in authors who lived close to 1492 as it helps to accurately determine the first views on those Indians already settled when Christopher Columbus arrived but also embraces the XVII th century, after King Philip II asked humanists to consider those people living in its new territory. By such demand, he raised a new interest in Spanish society which was not shared by the rest of the Empire he governed. Through the research into Indian origins, other subjects are underlined like the power of Crowns and religions, the needs of a new emergent wealthy social stratum and the changes of international politics as well as the magnification of a new born nationalism.

 

 

Hilary Matthews

hilary.matthews@pgr.reading.ac.uk

An Agricultural Friendship: Investigating the farming fraternity who attended agricultural events at the turn of the nineteenth century

Supervision:
  • Dr Jeremy Burchardt

My thesis explores the concept of an agricultural friendship existing among a group of men, from different backgrounds, who were interested in progressive farming at the turn of the nineteenth century. The regular attendees at the 1804 Woburn Sheep Shearing, identified by George Garrard in his print of the same name, form the defined population for this study.

 

 

Cheryl Midson

c.midson@pgr.reading.ac.uk

The Dominican Order in the Latin East, 1220-1291

Supervision:
  • Professor Rebecca Rist
  • Professor Lindy Grant

Paragraph about your research: I am examining the various roles and the impact that the Dominican Order had on the Latin East and beyond from its formation in 1220 until the end of the Crusader States in 1291. The Order was well known for their preaching of the Crusades in the West but this study is taking a closer look at their impact in the Crusader States and the lands beyond. I will be looking at the Dominicans roles as bishops, patriarchs, missionaries and diplomats, both within the Crusader States and the lands beyond.

 

 

Graham Moore

Graham.moore@pgr.reading.ac.uk

Prosecuting Piracy in Peacetime: Crime, Empire, and the High Court of Admiralty 1607-18

Supervision:

  • Dr Richard Blakemore

Piracy was a key point of political and social contention in Jacobean Britain. It formed a major component of both local and trans-national economies, whilst also representing a transitional stage in how the European world approached extra-legal activities at sea. My CDP project, in partnership with The National Archives, explores the High Court of Admiralty records from the early seventeenth-century, to discuss not only how legal systems treated piracy but also how those involved in maritime crime were able to interact with those systems, and take initiative for themselves.

 

 

Shepherd Mutswiri 

s.mutswiri@pgr.reading.ac.uk 

A negotiated settlement: Faith, nationalism, and women’s political imagination in the decolonisation of Zimbabwe, 1960 to 1980 

Supervision:
  • Dr Heike Schmidt 


My research recasts African nationalism by analysing women’s involvement in political nationalism through the lenses of gender and faith. It is especially this intersection of identity that this thesis aims to interrogate by looking at citizenship and belonging to excavate and analyse African political discourse. Traditionally, political participation had been reserved to adult men. The introduction of colonial rule in 1890 in Zimbabwe, however, brought with it mission Christianity and opportunities to re-negotiate individual and group identities. By analysing the theological and political concepts within the same analytical framework, this study contributes to the understanding of political theology, the process of how politics and theology rationally inform each other. This study applies a qualitative analysis by using a collective and individual biographical approach, semi-structured and life history interviews of women. Social and personal memory is utilised as a methodological toolkit to engage with concepts of memory to re-capture women’s shared actions and political activities. 

 

 

Mari-Liis Neubauer

m.neubauer@pgr.reading.ac.uk

The Implementation of Canon Law in Medieval Europe: the Case of Livonia, 1147- 1320

Supervision:
  • Professor Rebecca Rist (University of Reading)
  • Professor Helen Nicholson (Cardiff University)

My doctoral thesis investigates the extent of influence that canonical theories and ideas had in the formation of a Christian society. By focusing on the Northern Baltic region, contemporaneously known as Livonia, and by employing a variety of themes from baptismal liturgy and marriage to local jurisdictional and legislative practices, my project aims to explore the authority and significance that canon law held among individuals and institutions who spearheaded the Christianisation of Livonia. Additionally, this regional case study helps to reconsider both the unity and diversity of Medieval Europe, and to enhance comparative approaches in the study of the Middle Ages.

 

 

Emily Peirson-Webber

e.peirson-webber@pgr.reading.ac.uk

Masculinity and the mining industry, 1970-2000

Supervision:
  • Dr Natalie Thomlinson (University of Reading)
  • Professor Jon Lawrence (University of Exeter)

My research aims to explore the representations and experiences of masculinity in the British mining industry from 1970-2000. It will use a methodology combining the analysis of oral history testimonies, archival research and the rich material culture of mining communities.

 

 

 

Jo Raineau

j.m.raineau@pgr.reading.ac.uk

The Women's Refuge Movement in the UK, 1971 - 2000

Supervision:

  • Dr Natalie Thomlinson (University of Reading)
  • Professor Clarisse Berthezène (Universit de Paris)

My research on the history of the UK women's refuge movement addresses refuge activism as a new form of political and social engagement.

 

 

 

Erin Shearer

e.f.shearer@pgr.reading.ac.uk 

Women of Violence: Challenging Perceptions of Enslaved Women's Resistance in the Antebellum United States, 1815-1861

Supervision:
  • Professor Emily West (University of Reading)
  • Dr. David Doddington (Cardiff University)

My SWW-DTP funded research investigates the utilisation of violence by enslaved women in the Antebellum South as a form of resistance between 1815-1861. This thesis will address the fundamental questions: Were women deliberately excluded from organised collective violence because of their gender? Should acts of individual violent discord undertaken by women be categorised as 'everyday resistance?' Why have scholars associated violence to be inherently masculine in nature? This thesis will examine the extent of enslaved women's exploitations to determine why women used violence as a strategy of resistance and secondly, by establishing the frequency and different modes of violence deployed by female slaves within North and South Carolina.

 

 

Tracey Silvester 

t.silvester@pgr.reading.ac.uk 

The remarkable roles assigned to St Michael during the later Middle Ages: tracing his cult in England and Wales through liturgy, manuscripts, physical and material culture

Supervision:

  • Professor Anne Lawrence
  • Dr Aisling Byrne


My research will trace the development of St Michael’s cult through the liturgy, contemporary literary texts, manuscript images, and physical and material culture. I hope to identify certain roles adopted by St Michael and examine his importance to both lay and clerical communities. I will be assessing his popular appeal through poems, plays and feast days, and tracing the iconography and context of images of him found in manuscripts, on walls, paintings, and windows. I intend to identify church and chapel sites dedicated to Michael, together with their geographical features, to calculate his popularity in specific areas and to establish which facets of his cult were being celebrated there. Using a range of liturgical documents and visiting pilgrimage sites I hope to establish the roles attributed to St Michael and how changes in religious devotion influenced how he was portrayed. 

 

 

David Tallon

d.tallon@pgr.reading.ac.uk

Oil Exploitation and Conflict in Nigeria: 1940-2010

Supervision:
  • Professor Patrick Major
  • Professor Joel Felix

My research focuses on the experiences of those involved with the initial development of oil in Nigeria from c.1940 when Nigeria was a British colony to the end of the Biafran War (1967-1970). The project seeks to examine the roles played by Europeans and by Nigerians who worked in the oil industry alongside the role played by politicians in establishing oil as Nigeria's most powerful industry, which, since the 1970s was to have a devastating, often violent, impact on the economic, political and social life of the country. This study aims to investigate the motives and actions of individuals and organisations in order to explore the origins of the relationship between oil and conflict in Nigeria.

By cross referencing oil company and government archives along with personal memoirs, newspaper and oral records, I also hope to contribute to the broader dialogue on the origins of the so-called resource curse where oil riches can exacerbate poverty and can fuel corruption and violence. Integral to this research project will be the use of primary sources to help analyse the relationship between oil and issues such as racism, decolonialisation, neo-colonialism and globalisation.

 

 

Michelle Tessmann 

m.tessmann@pgr.reading.ac.uk 

Feminism and the press: British newspapers and the Women’s Liberation Movement, 1968 – 1986 

Supervision:
  • Dr Natalie Thomlinson 
  • Professor Matthew Worley


My research examines the ways in which the popular press debated and constructed women's rights and the social-cultural position of women in post-war British society, 1968-1986. It thereby questions how far the public press, influenced by the feminist movement and feminist activist magazines, became an active agent in the changing understanding of gender roles in post-war Britain. For this, I am looking at a variety of national newspapers and tabloids with a special emphasis on coverage on 'feminist' topics such as marriage, motherhood, equal pay, sex, reproductive freedom, and the Women's Liberation Movement. As such, the project sits at the intersection of scholarship regarding the Women's Liberation Movement, changing gender roles in late twentieth-century, the history of the press, and cultural studies. 

 

 

Abbie Tibbott 

a.f.tibbott@pgr.reading.ac.uk

Conservatism, Citizenship and Questions of Enfranchisement in 1920s Britain 

Supervision:
  • Dr. Jacqui Turner 
  • Professor Matthew Worley 

My research investigates actions taken by the 1924 Conservative Cabinet regarding women and the unemployed. By making extensive use of historic Cabinet Papers, I am analysing attempts made by the Cabinet in the 1920s to disenfranchise those in receipt of Poor Law relief, as well as investigating wider attitudes towards citizenship in the interwar period. The post-war ideology of Conservatism focused on nationalism, patriotism and individualism, leading to questions from those in the highest circles of government as to who ‘deserved’ to participate in the democratic process through casting a vote at general elections.

 

 

Janet Walls

j.c.walls@pgr.reading.ac.uk

The role of weather prognostics in Late-Medieval England

Supervision:
  • Professor Anne Lawrence
  • Dr. Aisling Byrne

My research investigates the role of weather prognostics in English manuscripts of the later Middle Ages. These prognostics are different from weather forecasts in that they make predictions from weather events (most notably thunder) about a range of social, political and health matters, in addition to the environment.  My study includes a variety of original manuscripts with weather prognostics dating from 1307 to 1530, from household books of education, entertainment, and information, to specialist astromedical compilations. The latter are the most common sources of late-medieval weather prognostics. The question has arisen whether weather disturbances were included because they were perceived by their compilers to be connected in some way to the planetary influences they define as ruling over human and animal health and affairs on earth.

 

 

Luke Walters

l.walters@pgr.reading.ac.uk  

Black Banners and Letters of Marque: Unlocking the World of Privateers and Pirates in the Late Seventeenth and Early Eighteenth Centuries

Supervision:
  • Dr Richard Blakemore
  •  Professor Joel Felix

Suffice to say, ‘Golden Age’ pirates inflicted a tremendous impact upon the socio-economic circumstances of the contemporary period. In their defying of the norms of their age in such spectacular manner, pirates captivated the imaginations of their contemporaries. In their raiding of the trade routes, they not only generated an unprecedented imperial crisis, but they also initiated the first ever manhunt in human history in the form of Henry Avery, the so-called ‘King of Pirates’. Names like Blackbeard, Bartholomew Roberts, and Anne Bonny are now viewed by some as folk heroes, while others perceive them with contempt as hostis humani generis, or enemies of mankind. 

Howbeit, while pirates have enjoyed centuries worth of scholarly attention, their lawful counterparts- privateers, have remained largely neglected. By meticulous research and a position within the National Archives, my research aims to bring into the light the story of the privateer, a controversial yet highly respectable figure within maritime history. Closely analysing the socio-political and economic histories of the contemporary period via a range of primary sources, both local and international, this thesis aims to be amongst the first in a burgeoning division of maritime scholarship. In a world of shifting alliances, the privateers of the European empires played the part of the soldier and the scoundrel, while pirates, as gamekeepers turned poachers, established their own settlements under their own black flags.