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Postgraduate Research

History's postgraduate research.

Postgraduate research is a central and exciting part of History's research culture. Comprised of our MRes, MA, MPhil and PhD students, the postgraduate student community forms an important and lively part of that culture. The recent appointment of new research-active staff, as well as the introduction of the MRes in 2009, have contributed to the significant expansion in PGR numbers: History's PGR community is thriving. We offer a stimulating environment for discussions of research, for instance at History's regular Staff-Postgraduate research seminars. Students participate in the full range of on-campus research and are seen as valued members of History and the Department of Humanities.


Our History PhD and MRes students are studying a diverse range of topics. Further details of our PhD students, including details of their research and contact information, can be found below.

If you are interested in commencing postgraduate study, please contact Dr Charlotte Alston, who will advise you which colleague is closest to your own interests.

 

Current History PhD Students:

James P. Brown 

Soviet and Anglo-American responses to Cold War Dissent, 1965-1991: Propaganda, Discourse, and Ideology

My thesis examines the role played by dissent in the Cold War's ideological geopolitics, propaganda, and intellectual history. It additionally explores the significance of dissidents to political identity in the national politics of the rival Cold War powers. This builds upon my core interests of the Cold War, International Relations, and the history of ideas. I have a 1:1 in History from Northumbria and Masters in East European and Eurasian Studies from the University of Glasgow. #neurodiverse

 

Emily Sharp

The National Union of Students and its Internationalisms: British Students and Transnational Solidarity from the 1950s to the 2000s

I completed both my MA (Hons) and MLitt in History at the University of Glasgow where I was awarded the Charlotte Nicholson Postgraduate Bursary and the George Gilbert Memorial Prize. My PhD is funded by the AHRC and seeks to assess the contribution of British student activists to international solidarity campaigns across the second half of the twentieth century. Examining the anti-apartheid movement, and the Chile and Palestine solidarity campaigns, I hope to track the changing sentiments, principles, patterns and priorities in British student activism across this period and to demonstrate the interconnected nature of local, national and international activism.

Email: emily4.sharp@northumbria.ac.uk

Twitter: @mlyshrp

LinkedIn: http://linkedin.com/in/emily-sharp-7492b541

 

Rory Allen

My research focuses on the Protestant and unionist community of Northern Ireland, building on an MA History project completed with Northumbria University. Largely using the lenses of Loyalist paramilitarism and Orangeism, my work seeks to identify distinction, conflict and tension within the unionist community. Additionally, the project will contribute to an understanding of how negative Republican and Irish nationalist assumptions of unionism are formed, used and perpetrated, both during the Troubles and in the present.

Email: rory.allen@northumbria.ac.uk

 

Adam Drake

War, State and Society: Edward I and the Anglo-French War, 1294-98

In 2016 I was awarded a BA First Class with honours in History and the Medieval World at the University of Winchester, before achieving an MA in History the following year. During the MA I completed some select research work for the Tudor Chamber Books Project; the project, 'Kingship, Court and Society', was a collaboration between the University of Winchester and The National Archives. In 2018 I began my postgraduate research degree at Northumbria University. My areas of expertise and research include: the three Edwards; Anglo-French/Castilian/Scottish political relations; late medieval military composition, strategy, and tactics.

Email: adam.drake@northumbria.ac.uk

 

Lisa Peatfield

Capturing Belsen: photographs of the liberation of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in English archives and museums.

The photographs taken during the liberation of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in April 1945 have become some of the most familiar images of the Holocaust. My research, funded by the Heritage Consortium, looks at how these photographs have been used, documented, interpreted and exhibited by the museums and archives that now hold them. I am a curator of social history at the Museum of Liverpool. I have an MA in Material and Visual Culture from UCL and a B.Social Science from the University of Birmingham.

Email: lisa.Peatfield@Northumbria.ac.uk

 

Jack Hodgson

Californians and Others: Marginalised children and the Golden State during the Great Depression

I completed my BA and MA at Teesside University where I received the Dick Richardson Memorial Prize, before moving to Northumbria to work on my PhD project. In that, I examine the marginalisation of non-Anglo-Californian children and their relationships with state institutions. More broadly, I have researched the use of children’s drawings as historical sources and American children’s interactions with Communism in the 1920s. Those wider interests, and my prior experience as a Camp Director in New Jersey, are reflected in recent contributions to Business Insider and The Washington Post. I am also co-founder of the Youth in America Research Network.

Email: j.d.hodgson@northumbria.ac.uk

Twitter: @hodgepodge96

 

Louis Lorenzo Holland Bonnett

The Natural Habitat of Youth? The Relationship between Childhoods and the Environment in North-East England, 1985-2010

In the context of contemporary fears over the denaturalisation of the child, my research analyses the evolving relationship between children and the environment in the North East. It focusses on childhood experience and agency and interrogates changing public policy, local initiatives, and contemporary debates on childhood, play, and the natural environment, whilst advancing an innovative methodology that combines oral testimony with walking interviews and mental maps in three distinct North East working class communities.

Email: louis.bonnett@northumbria.ac.uk

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/louis-holland-bonnett

 

Owen Woods

Shifting patterns of tonal design in the organs of Harrison & Harrison between 1872 and 1972

I am researching the changing tonal design of Harrison & Harrison Ltd during their first century based in Durham. I am investigating the organ as an artform and how it relates to community, to musical and technological fashion, and to individuals. My route into research was unconventional, graduating with a Masters in Engineering from the University of Cambridge in 2012 and subsequently working as an organ builder for Harrison & Harrison from 2015. My research is grounded in practical knowledge of the art of organ building and four years of immersion in the extensive company archives.

Email: owen.woods@northumbria.ac.uk

 

Struan Kennedy

(Re)Writing on the Wall: Disarming Weaponised Murals & Masculinities in Loyalist Northern Ireland

My thesis firstly investigates how loyalist masculinities are expressed throughout the symbolic landscape of Northern Ireland. I am focusing on the impact of militarised displays, the public glorification of violence and the continued presence of intimidating imagery. Secondly, the project seeks to understand ways of undoing this regressive practice which elevates a selective voice while silencing other narratives. This project is situated at the busy intersection between my three primary interests: culture, gender and conflict. This is derived from my background in History of Art at Glasgow University and Masters in Creative Practices of Research from Glasgow School of Art.

Email: struan.kennedy@northumbria.ac.uk

 

Lewis Kimberley

Rumour and Racial Violence in the United States, 1873 to 1908

I completed both my BA and MA in History at Northumbria, and I’m now undertaking a PhD with AHRC funding. My research examines the role played by rumours in large-scale incidents of racial violence in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century United States. More broadly, my research interests include racial violence and race relations, as well as lived experiences and understandings in post-Civil War America, particularly during the Reconstruction period.

Email: lewis.kimberley@northumbria.ac.uk

 

Helen Leighton-Rose

The Impact of Industrialisation on Women Workers in the Textile and Garment Trades of South East Scotland, 1740-1890.

In 2019 Helen Leighton-Rose gained her Master’s Degree with Distinction from Northumbria University.  Entitled ‘Public Scandal, Private Sin: Scottish Border Town Women and the Subversion of Patriarchal Control, 1707-1756’ this dissertation released previously unheard women’s voices from the Kirk archives. It ignited a passion for revealing the history of poor women and their methods for subverting the patriarchy. Starting in January 2020 she began her PhD (part-time) under the supervision of Dr Leona J. Skelton. She will continue her research into the history of labouring women in south-east Scotland, with a focus on the textile trade during the long eighteenth century.

Email: helen.leighton-rose@northumbria.ac.uk

 

Ella Nixon

Histories, Collections and Practice: Gender and the Regional Art Gallery

I completed a History BA Hons at the University of Cambridge followed by a History of Art MA at The Courtauld Institute of Art, specialising in twentieth-century European art. My PhD (funded by Northern Bridge) explores gender representation in the collecting, curatorial and educational practices of regional art galleries from the early twentieth century to the present day. My project is in collaboration with the Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle, which my thesis uses as a central case study.

Email: ella.nixon@northumbria.ac.uk

 

Nick Pepper

Northumberland National Park: Governmentality and the Recent and Not-So-Recent History of Thirlwall Castle

Academic background -- 1990-93 Social Psychology BA(hons); 1994-95 Criminology MA; 2018-19 Creative and Cultural Industries Management MA (dissertation: How might Northumberland National Park Authority develop a folk festival on Hadrian’s Wall? A scoping document using WoodFest – a festival on a heritage site – as a case-study). Other activity -- Director of Allen Valleys Folk Festival; Chair of Allendale May Fair. 

Email: nick.pepper@northumbria.ac.uk

 

Shaun Pitt

Piotr Kropotkin, anarcho-communist networks and British “New Liberalism” 1886-1921

I am interested in British anarchist networks in the early twentieth and late nineteenth century particularly their connections to other external networks. More broadly I am also interested in heterogenous political networks in this time period such as those centring around land reform, feminist, pacifist, Irish nationalist, prison reform and scientific networks (particularly in the social sciences). I studied my BA and MA at Oxford Brookes University. I am also very interested in the historic role of female relational activists and administrative political work more generally hope to publish  an article on this subject in the near future.

Email: shaun.pitt@northumbria.ac.uk

Twitter: @ShaunJPitt

 

Roseanna Ramsden

Rereading Women’s Holocaust Testimonies Against the Grain: Gendered Narratives, Representation and Identity

My PhD thesis aims, at its core, to help us garner a better understanding of women’s retrospective memoirs of the Holocaust. It rejects the traditional approaches to survivor accounts taken by much Holocaust research, opting instead for a fresh manner of critical reading; one that uses queer, gender and feminist theory as hermeneutic tools with which to reread women’s memoirs ‘against the grain’ of androcentric, heterosexist and normative Holocaust discourses. My research interests include queer history and women’s history, gender and identity, Holocaust testimony and the future of Holocaust remembrance, and women’s autobiographical writing. I have blogged for History Matters, and have published in the Holocaust Studies journal.

Email: rosie.ramsden@northumbria.ac.uk

 

Mark Stoddart

The Political and Social Construction of Work in North Eastern Engineering Industries 1880 -1918

I have 40 years of experience in IT, People and Process Management, the last 30 years of which were spent working for Xerox in a variety of UK and European management roles. My academic background starts with a BA (Hons) in Politics at Newcastle University, carries on with a BSc in History, an MBA and an MA in History all through the Open University. My research interests focus on the experience of work and the processes and materials that supported it, for both manual and white collar workers. I run a small consulting practice when I'm not researching, and am a Trustee for two Newcastle based charities. I have been a member of Durham County Cricket Club for over 30 years.

Personal website

Email: mark.stoddart@northumbria.ac.uk

 

Harriet Galler

Perceptions of Khmer Rouge Atrocities in Western Public History from 1975 – Present Day

I completed a BA (Hons) in English and History from the University of Southampton and a MA in Holocaust and Genocide Studies from the University of Amsterdam before joining Northumbria to work on my PhD. My master's thesis focused on transitional justice measures after the Cambodian Genocide and how perpetrators managed to evade justice for over 35 years. I hope to continue with these themes in my PhD which I began in January 2021 under the supervision of Dr Waitman Beorn. More broadly my research interests include transnational contexts of memory, comparative genocide, transitional justice, Holocaust testimony and the future of Holocaust and genocide remembrance.

Email: harriet.galler@northumbria.ac.uk

 

Adam Curry 

Men Say That He Shall Come Again’: King Arthur in Tudor England

I completed my BA (Hons) and MRes in History at Northumbria University. My current research will show how the religious and political vicissitudes of the long sixteenth century produced new and important understandings of King Arthur, which impacted on key developments then transforming English society, including: the impact of the Reformation, the expansion of royal power, and the re-emergence of empire.

Email: Adam.d.curry@northumbria.ac.uk

Twitter: @adamc80

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/adam-curry-104737141/

 

Luke Usher

The Forgotten British Forces: Veterans' Experience and Memory of the Burma Campaign, 1941-45.

My PhD thesis examines the personal testimonies (written and oral) of British veterans who fought in the ‘forgotten’ Burma campaign. The project takes a thematic approach to analysis and seeks to further reveal the lived human experience of servicemen during the Second World War. It aims to bring together the disciplines of new military history, oral history, memory studies and the cultural history of war. Academic background: MA (History and Education), Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE), BA (History).

Email: l.r.usher@northumbria.ac.uk

Twitter: @LRUWW2

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/luke-robert-usher-6861baa6

 

Ciaran Johnson 

The Railways and the Making of Upland Britain: The Lifecycle of an Envirotechnical Regime

I completed my History BA and MA at Oxford Brookes, while my current PhD is in collaboration with the National Railway Museum. My research focusses around the Princetown Railway on Dartmoor, the associated granite industry, and surrounding communities. Covering 1800 to the present day, it explores how developments on the moor were shaped by social, economic and political events, and looks at the wider influence of the moor itself. My research interests cover industrial, transport and social history from 1800-1970, while my professional background is with a living museum, where I have been involved in event planning, research and restoration.

Email: ciaran.johnson@northumbria.ac.uk

 

Recently Completed PhD Theses

Simon H. Buck

Old age and ageing in musical culture of the US South

I am currently researching experiences and representations of old age and ageing in country, blues, jazz, gospel, and other roots musics related to the US South from the early 20th century to the 1960s. My research interests include histories of popular culture, the South, ageing, intergenerational interaction, and medical humanities, including disability studies, in the American context. My thesis is inspired by previous and current occupations as an oral history project work for archives and community groups, as a carer for disabled clients, and as a financially unsuccessful, yet irrepressibly passionate, blues pianist

 

Jasmine Calver

Anti-Fascist, Feminist and Communist Activism in the 1930s: A study of the Comité mondial des femmes contre la guerre et le fascism

I completed a BA (hons) in History and an MRes in History both from the University of Northumbria, and was given a studentship to further my research at Northumbria at PhD level. My research interests include women’s history, French history, the relationship the Soviet Union and the West and anti-fascist history in the interwar period. My current project examines the work of a communist led, women’s anti-fascist group, the Comité mondial des femmes contre la guerre et le fascisme, and its links to the Soviet Union.

 

Ann-Marie Foster

The Ephemera of Remembrance in the Wake of War and Disaster, c.1899-1939

Ann-Marie holds BA(Hons) and MA degrees in history from Durham University and a PGCert in Heritage Research from the University of Hull. She is currently an AHRC Heritage Consortium funded PhD student at Northumbria University under the supervision of Dr James McConnel (Northumbria University) and Dr Jenny MacLeod (University of Hull). Her interests lie in the intersection of war, disaster, and family memory. Her research is currently focused on the ways in which families and individuals grieved after war and disaster, mapping patterns of mourning which emerge in relation to sudden death during the early twentieth century. She held a PhD placement at the British Library cataloguing First World War ephemera in 2016 and was awarded a Gerda Henkel scholarship by the l’Historial de la Grande Guerre in 2017. She has blogged for various online publications (British Library, Remember Me, Oxford World War One Centenary) and has published in the British Library Journal. An article on memory transmission between veterans, their families, and local museums is forthcoming in History & Memory (2019).

 

Lara Green

Russian Revolutionary Terrorism in Transnational Perspective: Representations and Networks, 1881-1926

I began my PhD at Northumbria University in 2014, having previously studied for my BA and MA degrees in History at Durham University. My PhD focuses on the production and reception of representations of Russian revolutionary terrorism abroad, among English-speaking audiences and communities of émigré revolutionaries, explores representations of terrorism across a variety of genres, and looks at the transnational networks which supported terrorist propaganda abroad.

 

Rowan Hartland

Black Power Culture in the American South, 1967-1977

My PhD investigates Black Power Culture in the under-researched and often marginalised regions in the American South. The thesis challenges the notion that Black Power was dominated by Northern Black Nationalism and instead emphasises the heterogeneous strategies of organisations and movements that formed cultural networks in the South. My research Interests include the Black Power Movements; the Civil Rights Movement; African American Culture; Visual and Material Culture.

 

Sophie Roberts

Complicating Gender: Female Activists and the Multiple Dimensions of Anti-Vietnam War Protest in Britain

Having studied U.S. presidential history in the past, my current research focuses on the anti-Vietnam War movement in Britain and its transnational links. My PhD takes four female case studies who opposed the war in Britain in various ways. These women utilised different activist approaches, including transnational co-operation, local activism, activism channelled through Parliament, and trade union activism, in order to agitate for the same cause. Through this approach, my thesis seeks to explore notions concerning the intersection between gender and activism, by exploring the activism of these women who, unlike many of their female contemporaries, did not oppose the war using gendered rhetoric. 

 

Rowan G. E. Thompson

The Peculiarities of British Militarism: The Air and Navy Leagues in Interwar Britain

Rowan’s thesis examines the role of the Air League of the British Empire and the Navy League in the re-militarisation of state and civil society in interwar Britain. His thesis engages with the militaristic associational culture of the period and explores how susceptible British popular and political culture was to militarism as expounded by these two organisations. His research interests include: British political and associational culture, militarism, political activism and the impact of war on British society and politics.

Twitter: @rgethompson91

 

Jack WeatherstonJack Weatherston

How the West has Warmed: Climate Change in the Contemporary Western

My research focuses on contemporary Westerns with an eco-critical perspective. Due to its centrality and importance within American mythmaking, the Western genre is a productive site for interrogating the influence of climate change on culture. The troubling anxieties and traumas present in contemporary Westerns are, I argue, indicative of the encroaching anxieties of climate change. I have taught and lectured on American literature and introduction to literature modules at Northumbria and Newcastle Universities. I have a chapter in an edited collection of Western scholarship forthcoming in 2019, publisher Bloomsbury. I have a BA and MA in English from Exeter University.

 

a man wearing glasses posing for the cameraDrew James Ryder

The Experience of British Soldiers in the Korean War 1950-1953

I am a History student, primarily interested in the cultural history of servicemen in the 20th Century. I completed a Bachelors degree in History with First Class Honours and Masters degree at Teesside University.  My current research is focused around the lives and experiences of British servicemen in the Korean War of 1950- 1953.

 

a man standing on top of a grass covered fieldDamian Shiels

Recovering the Voices of the Union Irish: Identity, Motivation & Experience in Irish-American Civil War Correspondence, 1861-65

Formerly a curator with the National Museum of Ireland and company director with a commercial heritage firm, Damian has published and lectured widely on Irish archaeological and historical topics. Among his authored books are The Irish in the American Civil War (History Press, 2013) and The Forgotten Irish: Irish Emigrant Experiences in America (History Press, 2016). He established the award-winning www.irishamericancivilwar.com website in 2010. He specialises in social aspects of military history; his current research focuses on analysis of the correspondence of Irish servicemen contained within nineteenth-century American widow and dependent pension applications.

Twitter: @irishacw

 

 


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