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Historical people image

Research in History at the University of Northampton

We have a rich research culture in History. Our History department has eight members of academic staff, all of whom are active researchers and whose research feeds directly into our teaching programme. We have a growing number of PhD students and an environment that encourages innovative research with the potential to make a real impact.

Areas of interest

History’s research is clustered around two areas:

  • Social and cultural history
  • War, empire and security

Recent projects

Soldiers and soldiering in Britain, 1750-1815

Dr Matthew McCormack undertook this two-year joint project with Dr Kevin Linch of The University of Leeds. The project has been awarded a total of £187,000 by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). The project explored the figure of the soldier, and the complex relationship that soldiers had with British society during a long period of conflict. To do this, the project combined military history with methodologies from social and cultural history. The project has ongoing impacts, including an interactive website where the researchers shared their findings, and established a network among researchers, archivists, students and the general public.

Consumption and the Country House

Country houseThis project was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and carried out by Dr Mark Rothery and Professor Jon Stobart. The study examined the patterns, spaces and cultures of consumption in three country houses: Stoneleigh Abbey, Arbury Hall and Canons Ashby. The project produced numerous journal articles, led to two conferences at the University of Northampton in 2012 and 2014 and produced a book authored by Jon Stobart and Mark Rothery entitled Consumption and the Country House: Elite Spending and Identities in Georgian England, published with Oxford University Press in 2016.

Current projects

British intelligence during the First World War

Jim Beech Haig's IntelligenceDr Jim Beach specialises in researching the history of British Intelligence during the First World War. His monograph ‘Haig’s Intelligence’ was published by Cambridge University Press in 2013. The book confronted a perennial question about the British Army on the Western Front: why did they think they were winning? He is taking this work forward by editing the diary of an intelligence NCO on the Western Front and writing a biography of a First World War Intelligence Corps officer. The latter facilitated by the Geraldine Grace and Maurice Alvin McWatters Visiting Fellowship at the Queen’s University archives in Kingston, Ontario. This research stream has enabled Dr Beach to assist the Military Intelligence Museum in documenting their First World War holdings.

Pauper lunacy, charity and the Victorian asylum

Historic paining of landworkersDr Cathy Smith’s research has used a case study of the Northampton General Lunatic Asylum to explore the rapid increase in pauper lunacy during the nineteenth century. Cathy’s current project seeks to use census, poor law and the asylum records to explore the experience of insanity for those who became insane and their wider circle of family, kin and friends. This approach seeks to move away from a focus more directly on the institution of the asylum towards a greater understanding of the role the asylum played within the local community and patient and family experience of it. The project also explores how ideas of charity might have changed in relation to the class of the recipient. The project was funded by the Wellcome Trust and Cathy is currently writing up her findings as a book.

“Now Walks Like Others?” Health, Medicine and Disability during the First World War.

Dr Caroline Nielsen’s research focuses on the social history of medicine, especially the impact of war on people’s views of disability. She is currently working on a community project with Northampton General Hospital Historical Archive exploring the everyday health and wellbeing of Northamptonians before, during, and immediately after the First World War. The project looks at key themes such as child health, women’s health, housing and sanitation, industrial health, and the experience of long-term poor health and disability. It will culminate in a series of public events on the history of civilian medicine, health and disability. It is funded by the AHRC’s Everyday Lives in War, First World War Engagement Centre at the University of Herfordshire.

Radicalism research group

Radicalism poster

Led by Dr. Paul Jackson, the Radicalism Research Group works on a wide range of projects that are focused on far right politics and Islamist ideology. As well as publishing academic research, the Radicalism Research Group has run workshops and conferences aimed at a wider, professional audience, such as the Police; developed partnerships with non-academic institutions; and produced innovative resources, such as custom-made training packages. It has also created The Searchlight Archive, also based at the University of Northampton, a major collection for people studying the extreme right in post-war Britain and around the world.

Leaky Bodies: Manhood, Sex and Power in Early Modern England

Historic illustration of men

Dr Tim Reinke-Williams is writing a social and cultural history of the gendered body in England between 1580 and 1740. Masculinity studies has been a growing field over the last three decades, but men’s bodies remain an underexplored topic in early modern history, and existing scholarship has tended to be based either on medical papers or erotica and pornography which offer a limited range of perspectives on the body. This project uses a wider source base consisting of court depositions, life-writings and cheap print, to explore attitudes to and experiences of the emission of five fluids from men’s bodies: semen, saliva, urine, vomit, and blood. By examining these bodily functions the project will engage with debates about sexuality, civility, politeness and violence between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries.

History staff

Dr Jim Beach, Senior Lecturer in Twentieth-Century Histrory

Dr Jim Beach
01604 892095

Dr Nicola Cooper, Senior Lecturer in Modern History
01604 893583

Dr Drew Gray, Subject Leader for Humanities

Dr Drew Gray
01604 892576

Dr Paul Jackson, Senior Lecturer in History

Dr Paul Jackson
01604 892575

Prof Matthew McCormack, Professor of History

Dr Matthew McCormack
01604 892126

Dr Caroline Nielsen, Senior Lecturer in History and Heritage
01604 892745

Dr Tim Reinke-Williams, Senior Lecturer in History

Dr Tim Reinke-Williams
01604 892423

Dr Mark Rothery, Senior Lecturer in Eighteenth and Nineteenth-Century History

Dr Mark Rothery
01604 892396

Dr Cathy Smith, Dean of Research

Dr Cathy Smith
01604 892132

Dr Rachel Moss, Lecturer in History

Working with History’s researchers

If you are interested in working with us please contact


Select a recent output below or view all research outputs on NECTAR.