I work mainly on nineteenth-century British political and cultural history, with research specialisms in the history of popular politics and protest, the visual and material culture of politics, and the history of emotions.
I remain passionate about nineteenth-century Britain, and believe that we still have much to learn about this fascinating period. Whether it's the Luddites, the Chartists, or the lives of artisans and millworkers - groups at the centre of my research - it is important that we as historians continue to research and reflect on these topics and communicate our findings to a wide range of audiences. Too often, the late Georgians and especially the Victorians are presented as being 'just like us'. Similarities and anticipations there may have been, but in many respects they were quite unlike us today.
I have recently completed a monograph, Chartism, Commemoration and the Cult of the Radical Hero, which was published by Routledge in August 2019. Chartism, the British mass movement for democratic and social rights in the 1830s and 1840s, was profoundly shaped by the radical tradition from which it emerged. Yet, little attention has been paid to how Chartists saw themselves in relation to this diverse radical tradition or to the ways in which they invented their own tradition. Paine, Cobbett and other ‘founding fathers’, dead and alive, were used and in some cases abused by Chartists in their own attempts to invented a radical tradition. By drawing on new and exciting work in the fields of visual and material culture, cultures of heroism, memory and commemoration, critical heritage studies and the history of political thought, this book explores the complex cultural work that radical heroes were made to perform.
My next book is provisionally entitled Democratic Passions: The Politics of Feeling in British Popular Radicalism, 1809-1848, contracted with Manchester University Press. This book takes a fresh look at British popular radicalism in the first-half of the nineteenth century from the perspective of the exciting and burgeoning field of the history of emotions. The Politics of Emotion raises questions fundamental to politics in every age: should the public sphere be a domain free from emotion, or at least one where restraint is exercised? What are the consequences for democratic polities where either restraint, or its absence, operates? How do public displays of emotion complicate our gendered understanding of the historic separation of the public (rational) sphere from the private (sentimental)? In sketching out an agenda for what political historians might do with the history of emotions, this book will be of interest to scholars and students working on political culture, social movements and political leadership across the modern period.
Other current projects include:
Commemoration and modern British politics (edited volume contracted with Bloomsbury)
Remembering Chartism in the 20th century
William Cobbett and Loyalist Feeling in the Transatlantic Age of Reason, 1785-1800
Richard Cobden, the Anti-Corn Law League and the Politics of Feeling in Mid-Victorian England
Popular Politics and Protest
Radicals, Chartists, Luddites, loyalists, Conservatives,
University of York
Visual and Material Culture
Banners, caricatures, cartoons, political satire
History of Emotions
The politics of the passions; feeling and embodied emotion in popular/social movements, political leadership and affective politics
University of York
BA History (First Class Honours)
Memory and Commemoration
Heritage politics of popular movements, invention of tradition, politics of pantheonism, political use of the past