I 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. I am M.G. 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 predominantly on how, in the period c. 1850–1939, British educational institutions were sites for the production of ideas about gender and sexuality. I am currently completing my first book manuscript, Teaching Gender: Higher Education Reform and Heteronormativity in Britain, 1860–1939. It offers a new explanation for how British higher education became coeducational from the late nineteenth century, and argues that coeducational universities played an important role in making the hetero/homo binary foundational to middle-class life and sociability in the twentieth century. Drawing on extensive research in the archives of ten colleges and universities across England and Scotland, I show that the nationalization and centralization of higher education at the turn of the twentieth century resulted incidentally in coeducation, over the protest of feminist activists who supported gender segregation; that students’ negotiation of cross-gender interaction in coeducational universities ultimately led them to identify heterosexuality as a seemingly less fraught paradigm than more gender-neutral conceptions of “corporate life”; and that single-sex men’s and women’s colleges, though increasingly marginal, became important sites for the theorization of life paths and identities outside the heterosexual norm. Through detailed recovery both of political and financial decision-making and of the experiences and emotions of faculty, students, administrators, donors, and national politicians, I paint a vivid and resonant picture of the university campus as a key site for the transmission of norms around gender and sexuality.
I 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. The project reappraises several writers and theorists—some well-known, others less so—who contributed to the development of a distinctively English genealogy of male homosexuality. I examine the roles that elite educational institutions, the Greek and Latin classics, and antidemocratic political thought played in the development of these men’s ideas, and their lasting impact on the trajectory of the British LGBTQ+ rights movement. Other research interests include the rise and fall of the hetero/homo binary in the twentieth-century Atlantic world; the intellectual history of late-twentieth-century lesbian and gay studies; queerness and classical reception; and the history of English elite single-sex education from early modernity to the present.
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