I am a historian of gender and sexuality, education, and the politics, society, and culture of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Britain more broadly. In May 2020, I received my PhD in History from Columbia University. From October 2020, I will be a Junior Research Fellow at Merton College, Oxford.
I am currently revising my PhD dissertation, The Politics and Culture of Gender in British Universities, 1860–1935, for publication as a monograph. My project seeks to understand what happened to the higher education sector and to Britain more broadly when women first began to enter higher education from the 1860s. Through deep immersion in the archives of seventeen English and Scottish colleges and universities, I have found that policymakers and higher education administrators came very quickly to a consensus that higher education should be accessible to women, with all universities in Britain except Oxford and Cambridge admitting women on equal terms to men by 1905. But formal equality did not imply integration. Through a series of case-studies ranging over the political, legal, social, and cultural history of higher-education institutions and those who studied and worked in them, I show that conceptions of the purpose of the university remained gender-differentiated and women’s and men’s social and emotional lives remained gender-segregated. Many men and women sought to overcome these divides, but struggled practically to work out how to do so; others remained attached to idealized conceptions of same-sex intimacy that they thought uniquely possible in residential higher education. I suggest that a richer understanding of how middle-class individuals negotiated gender relations over a tremendous period of social and cultural change can offer us greater purchase on the persistence of gender difference as a fundamental organizing category of politics and society in modern Britain.
I have also been working for several years on a project about the intellectual history of male homosexuality in modern Britain. Originally stemming from undergraduate research on the early theorist of homosexuality John Addington Symonds, the project is a study of the voluminous manuscript writings on homosexuality of figures such as William Johnson Cory, Symonds, E.P. Warren, G.L. Dickinson, and E.M. Forster. It seeks to distinguish a conservative, elitist strand of thinking about masculine intimacy, closely linked with elite education and with the Greek and Latin classics, and to demonstrate that this set of ideas both enjoyed widespread legitimacy within elite single-sex institutions in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and played a significant role in how modern homosexual identity has been conceptualized in Britain.
At Columbia, I taught widely in British and European history and US intellectual history, and advised students writing senior theses. In 2019–20, I taught Contemporary Civilization, a course focused on primary texts in Western moral and political philosophy that is part of Columbia’s mandatory Core Curriculum.