Research in History at the University of Northampton

We have a rich research culture in History. Our History department has nine 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 Research and Projects

Dr Jim Beach

Jim 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? In recent years he has taken this work forward by focusing on the ‘personnel’ dimension of the British army’s intelligence system. One aspect of this has been an investigation into Interpreter-Operators who listened in to frontline telephone conversations. An explanation of this project and links to its open-access outputs can be found on the history at Northampton website.

Dr Drew Gray

Drew is currently writing a study of the London Police Magistrate Courts in the second half of the nineteenth century. Building on his established blog (www.thepolicemagistrate.blog) his forthcoming book Nether Worlds: Crime and the Police Courts of Victorian London will explore the nature of the police courts over the course of the nineteenth century, reflecting on changes in legislation, policing and developments such as the appearance of police court missionaries (the forerunners of probation officers). Themes and topics will include: violence, homicide, gender, property crime, prostitution, poverty, slum living, working–class marriage, street life and trade, immigration and prejudice, punishment, policing and the discretionary nature of the magistrate’s role. It will be published by Reaktion Books.

Dr Paul Jackson

Paul works on the history and current dynamics of the extreme right, in Britain and across the world. He has written on a diverse range of topics, from antisemitic conspiracy theories, to neo-Nazi transnational networks, past and present, to lone actor terrorism. His area of research has also led him to work with organisations such as local authorities and the police, such as creating CPD courses for professionals involved in dealing with the issues posed by the far right. As part of this work, he has also developed a strong relationship with the anti-fascist organisation Searchlight, and now the University of Northampton hosts its extensive archive of materials related to the far right. Paul’s work and research impact activities draw extensively on this unique and highly significant resource, and it features in Gale Cengage’s recent online archive Political Extremism and Radicalism in the Twentieth Century. His most recent book, Colin Jordan and Britain’s Neo-Nazi Movement: Hitler’s Echo, focused on Colin Jordan, a British activist who inspired generations of neo-Nazis in Britain and internationally. In the wake of the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, USA in August 2017, Paul wrote an article for the Huffington Post on the history of antifascist protest. He has also written for the Guardian, arguing Donald Trump is an archetypal charismatic leader.

Professor Matthew McCormack

Matthew McCormack is currently working on a project called ‘Shoes and the Georgian Man’. This developed out of his previous work on masculinity and the body, and on the material culture of the military. The history of shoes can tell us a great deal about society, gender and even national identity. It is particularly valuable to study the objects themselves, as handling the objects can reveal a great deal about what they would have been like to wear, and also the bodies that wore them. Matthew has therefore carried out research for this project in several shoe museums: Northampton is home to key shoe and leather collections, given the town’s long association with those industries.

Dr Rachel Moss

Rachel Moss

Rachel’s current work is focused on finishing outputs researched during her Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship on homosociality in late medieval English society. The project analyses both the social relationships between men and the cultural values that created them in order to gain insight into gendered experience in late medieval England, and develops our understanding of the underlying social structures that made gender inequality a defining feature of medieval society. Rachel argues that homosociality was a cultural mindset that, by privileging bonds between men, made it possible to create networks of socially-codified relationships that supported hegemonic norms and facilitated the structuring of patriarchy. You can read one of her most recent conference papers on this subject.

Dr Caroline Nielsen

Caroline Nielsen

Caroline’s research explores the experiences of British aging and disabled ex-servicemen before the twentieth century, examining their complex relationships with their communities, with the state and local government, and with medical and charitable institutions such as Royal Hospital of Chelsea (London, UK, and home of the famous Chelsea Pensioners) and the Navy’s Chest at Chatham. She is currently writing up her monograph on the subject, provisionally titled The Royal Hospital of Chelsea, Army Pensions and British Society, 1660-1834. Caroline also works on employability of History students, and is Co-Investigator on the project ‘Employability in History Programmes: An Evaluation of Staff and Student Perspectives’. This project seeks to explore the range of experiences and best practices within nine East Midlands Universities, examining both student and HE staff perspectives, expectations and aspirations. This joint project with Dr Andrew Gritt (Nottingham Trent University) is funded by the East Midlands Centre for History Teaching and Learning.

Dr Tim Reinke-Williams

Tim 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. His work 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.

Dr Mark Rothery

Mark’s current project, The English Aristocracy 1700-1900: A History of Anxiety, offers a fresh survey of the aristocracy across this period of hegemony and decline, testing key ideas in the history of emotions, such as ‘emotional economies’, ‘emotional regimes’ and ‘emotional communities’. Using family and political correspondence and published journal literature Mark is exploring a range of anxieties generated by this elite and privileged group. These include the ‘fear of falling’ on the part of ‘marginalised aristocrats’ such as younger sons, daughters and the ‘lesser’ aristocracy; the emotional economies of family anxieties attached to status, relationships, ill health and the distribution of resources and the way that anxiety was used to shape and structure identities; social anxieties surrounding hierarchy and driven by riot, rebellion and disorder (whether real or imagined); the specific experience of decline from the late nineteenth century in what might be termed ‘The Age of Anxiety’ for the aristocracy; anxieties attached to the aristocracy as political and military leaders by others in published literature. Studying a single group across a long period allows the study to address questions surrounding levels of diachronic variation in emotions. The project draws on earlier work published in The Historical Journal and it is intended that a monograph will be published in Oxford University Press’ ‘Emotions in History’ series.

Working with History’s researchers

If you are interested in working with us please contact matthew.mccormack@northampton.ac.uk.


View all research outputs on NECTAR.