Rutherford photo NGTI am a historian of gender and sexuality, education, and the politics, society, and culture of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Britain. I received my PhD in History from Columbia University in May 2020. From October 2022 I will be the Brock Junior Research Fellow in History at Corpus Christi College, Oxford; previously, I was a JRF at Merton College, Oxford. I teach modern British history, historical methods, and gender, sexuality and LGBTQ+ history to undergraduate and graduate students in Oxford.

My research focuses on the transformation of gender relations around the turn of the twentieth century, as middle-class women increasingly entered the public sphere and accessed new political and economic freedoms; on the emergence of the categories of “heterosexuality” and “homosexuality” in the same period; and on how the structure and culture of educational institutions help us to see how people lived through, negotiated and resisted these transformations.

My current book project, Coeducation in British Universities and the Remaking of Gender Difference, is a history of how gender structured the expansion and reform of higher education in Britain between the mid-nineteenth century and the Second World War. Grounded in extensive research in the archives of ten universities across England and Scotland, my book reframes previous accounts that have focused on feminist activists’ campaigns for inclusion in all-male institutions. I show that, from the 1880s, most universities moved quickly and uncontroversially to admit women to degrees, but that students, faculty, administrators, donors, politicians, the media, and the public all participated in reinventing cultural norms of gender difference and gender segregation within formally gender-integrated institutions. Telling richly detailed stories about topics such as student nightlife and dating culture, the gendered assumptions underlying the reform of higher education funding, and the emotional lives of faculty who fought to preserve universities as spaces for gender-segregated intimacy, I connect these themes to wider analysis of a moment of tremendous crisis and change for the modern European gender order.

I also have longstanding research interests in queer history and theory, that have previously led to academic and non-academic publications and other projects. I am in the early stages of a second book project about the intellectual history of male homosexuality in nineteenth- and twentieth-century England, and I regularly write, speak, and teach on themes including homoeroticism in classical reception and the rise and fall of the hetero/homo binary.