I am an historian of twentieth-century Britain, and am particularly interested in age, education, self-narratives and oral history, memory and selfhood. My AHRC-funded PhD, completed in 2014 at the University of Cambridge, focused on teachers’ changing concepts of childhood and youth in primary and secondary modern schools in England and Wales from the 1930s to the 1970s. I am currently adapting this project into a monograph with the working title A Progressive Education? How Childhood Changed in Mid-Twentieth-Century English and Welsh Schools.
My postdoctoral research, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, focuses on how children’s and adolescents’ perceptions of what it means to be an adult in Britain have changed from c.1950 to the present day. Methodologically, this project breaks new ground for this period by considering adulthood, as well as childhood, as a constructed category, and contending that we can only understand the two in relation to each other. It will explore the tension between the ‘ideal adult’ – the psychologically mature independent actor who can, for example, give informed consent to medical procedures, a theme developing within healthcare in the post-war welfare state – and the real adult who often doesn’t live up to these ideals. What kind of adult did teenagers think they would grow up to be?
In 2012-13, I received an AHRC student-led Collaborative Skills Development Grant for my project, Talking History, to work in collaboration with Rambling Heart delivering oral history and storytelling training to graduate students and early career researchers in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Cambridge. I have received funding from Oxford’s Public Engagement with Research Seed Fund to run follow-up workshops with adolescents in Bath in May and June 2017. I want to explore how traditional storytelling can help us as oral historians; can exploring story structures with our interviewees help them to tell the stories that they want to tell better?
I have published journal articles in Twentieth Century British History, Cultural and Social History, Contemporary British History and Medical Humanities, written book reviews for History of Education, Social History and Contemporary British History, and have also written for History and Policy and the Guardian. My academia.edu page is here.