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Dr Rebecca Wright

Lecturer in U.S. History

Department: Humanities

Before to joining the faculty at Northumbria in 2018, Rebecca was a Research Fellow in Future Health at the University of York in the Centre for Global Health Histories. Prior to this she was a Research Fellow in Mass Observation Studies at the University of Sussex (2017) and a Research Fellow on the AHRC collaborative project ‘Material Cultures of Energy,’ Birkbeck College (2014-16). She is currently finishing a book manuscript, Moral Energy in America: From the Progressive Era to the Atomic Bomb which explores the birth of an ‘energy consciousness’ in the United States in the first half of the twentieth century.


PhD, Birkbeck College, University of London (2015)

MA, Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London (2010)

BA (Hons), University of Nottingham (2009)

Research Themes and Scholarly Interests

Rebecca’s research explores cultural approaches to the history of energy, with a focus on twentieth-century American history. This includes examinations of the cultural meanings and emotions attached to energy, and the role of epistemological models, experts and international organizations in influencing the development of energy systems and energy policy.

Her current research examines how the American body became carbonised over the twentieth century. She explores how the body was used as a way to build, as well as balance, energy systems and energy load. As part of this project, she is particularly interested in the hidden role of health officials and health reformers in the energy industry and energy policy. In broadening understandings of how models of health and well-being were bound into energy networks, her research considers what role health and the medical humanities might have in developing sustainable low-carbon energy futures. Alongside research in energy, Rebecca is also interested in the application and impacts of digital methods within humanities and historical research.


AD3014 Humanities Portfolio: Skills for University

HI4007 Making History

HI5030 Debating History

AM6003 States of Nature: An Environmental History of the Americas (Explorations in American Studies III)



Rebecca Wright, Moral Energy in America: From the Progressive Era to the Atomic Bomb. Manuscript in preparation.

Rebecca Wright, Hiroki Shin and Frank Trentmann, Power, Energy and International Cooperation: A History of the World Energy Council, 1923-2018 (forthcoming Munich: Oekom Books, 2019).


Articles and Book Chapters

Rebecca Wright, ‘Mass Observation and the Emotional Energy Consumer’, Canadian Journal of History / Annales Canadiennes D’Histoire (forthcoming 2018).

Rebecca Wright, ‘Media Imprints within the Digital Interface: Typewriting Mass Observation Online,’ History Workshop Journal (forthcoming 2019)

Rebecca Wright and Frank Trentmann, ‘The Social Life of Energy Futures: Experts, Consumers and Demand in the Golden Age of Modernization, c.1900-1973,’ in Futures Past: Experts, Development and Sustainability, ed. Manuel Rivera, Anna Barbara Sum and Frank Trentmann (Oekom / Green Book, 2018).

Rebecca Wright, ‘The Economics of Aesthetics at Southern California Edison,’ Environment, Space, and Place 10.1 (2018): 39-62.

Rebecca Wright and Colin Pooley, ‘Connecting Past, Present and Future,’ ACM-Interactions 24. 2 (2017), 39-41.

Rebecca Wright, ‘Sunspots and Sync,’ in Energy in Literature, ed., Paula Farca., (Oxford: TrueHeart Press, 2015), 9-19.

Rebecca Wright, ‘The Cock and the Weathercock: The Circular Value of the Wind,’ Dandelion 4.2 (2013), 1-12.


Other Outputs

Rebecca Wright, ‘Curls’ [online post] in ‘Our Lives with Electrified Things’, special issue of Cultural Anthropology (Sep 2017).

Rebecca Wright and Frank Trentmann, ‘Energy Futures: Through an ‘Expert’ Looking Glass’, [blog post], International Social Science Council Blog [published 24th of April 2017].

Frank Trentmann and Rebecca Wright, ‘The Future is Now’ [catalogue essay], Oil, Almeida Theatre, London, 7 Oct-26 Nov 2016.

Rebecca Wright, Hiroki Shin and Frank Trentmann, From World Power Conference to World Energy Council: 90 Years of Energy Cooperation, 1923-2013 London: The World Energy Council, 2013.

Funding Awards and Fellowships

Research Fellowship in Future Health, Centre for Future health, University of York/ Wellcome Trust (2018)

Dibner Research Fellowship in the History of Science and Technology, Huntington Library, Pasadena, CA (2016)

Collaborative Research Training Student-Led Initiative Scheme Funding, AHRC, Co-Investigator for ‘Critical Waves’ a collaborative project between Birkbeck College, the Institute of Contemporary Arts, and Resonance 104.4. (2014)

British Research Council Fellow, John W. Kluge Centre, The Library of Congress, Washington D.C., (2013)

Doctoral Studentship, AHRC (2011-2015)

Sponsors and Collaborators

Rebecca has presented her work at a number of organizations including the World Energy Council, EDF Energy’s R&D Centre, Paris, and the European Union’s Joint Research Centre, Science Policy Unit in Ispra.

She has run, and has forthcoming events at the Science Museum, London, The British Science Festival and the Manchester Festival of Science.

Rebecca is also a project collaborator on the AHRC Follow-on-Funding Project, ‘Communicating Material Cultures of Energy: Five Challenges for Energy Communication’, P.I. Hiroki Shin.


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