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University of Leicester

UOA 62 - History

RA5a: Research environment and esteem




The University of Leicester’s School of Historical Studies (SHS) has an international reputation for authoritative scholarship. The School’s research innovates by embracing interdisciplinary approaches, exploiting neglected sources, and employing advanced methods. The School hosts distinguishing specialisms in the Centres for English Local History and Urban History and enjoys particular strengths in medieval history and social history. Leicester is also well-known for its work in American history, colonial (developing into global) history, financial history, Holocaust studies, early modern ideas and religion, and late modern political and scientific history.

The highlights of the School’s research record are:

        The Centres for English Local History (CELH) and Urban History (CUH), whose publications have international impact. Their activities include organizing conferences, recruiting research students, and attracting research funding and visiting fellows from overseas.

        Success in winning large research grants from research councils and trusts, and for the funding of research assistants from AHRC and the Wellcome Trust.

        Interdisciplinary research in which historical enquiry is strengthened by collaboration with archaeology, literature, social science and natural science.

        Alliances and contacts beyond the University with external bodies such as local government and museums leading to such fruitful activities as the East Midlands Oral History Archive, and work with the National Maritime Museum.

        Ground-breaking conferences such as ‘W.G. Hoskins and the Making of the British Landscape’ (2005) and ‘How the Holocaust Looks Now’ (2005).

For the last RAE staff and Centres put forward their research plans, most of which have borne fruit in the intervening years. Of the targets set out in 2001, the great majority have been met. Postgraduate numbers and grant income have grown substantially. Collectively, history at Leicester has evolved in exciting ways. The most significant development was the merger in 2003 of the Departments of History and Economic and Social History. The latter department had already (in 2000) incorporated English Local History. This process of merger has created not just exciting opportunities to work together, such as the interaction between Aston, Coffey and Sweet in the field of religious history, but also a combination of Centres, groupings and individuals, and of themes and subjects, which gives Leicester’s current historical research its unique chemistry.


The School staffing profile includes nine professors, mid-career academics and a cohort of early career researchers. Among the latter are three ‘New Blood’ lecturers appointed under recent University initiatives designed to strengthen research output and enhance the research environment of successful centres. They are exempted from teaching in their first year and have reduced loads over the following three.


1. The local research environment

1.1 The research structure of the SHS



The School’s research structure combines the best qualities of the departments which merged to form a single School. The mergers were carefully managed in a cooperative and constructive spirit. The distinctive methodologies, strengths and traditions of the former departments have not only been maintained but invigorated, above all in the Research Centres. The School’s broad base of expertise and range of research interests is apparent in its ability to run a suite of seven seminar series during the 2006-7 session, at which a total of 54 papers were given, organized and attended by members of all three former departments.


The majority of the School’s research activities, together with its postgraduate teaching and facilities, are located in the Marc Fitch Historical Institute. This houses CELH and CUH, the East Midlands Oral History Archive, the Media Archive for Central England, together with postgraduate study and computer suites. CELH and CUH have library facilities with more than 16,000 volumes, and CELH has a map room. There are large and attractive seminar rooms, and both CELH and CUH have dedicated secretarial support.


Centre for English Local History

CELH, founded in 1948, makes a unique contribution to its discipline through its agenda of understanding the interaction between society, culture and landscape. It combines history with a variety of disciplines such as English literature and archaeology. Its continuing vitality is demonstrated by its collaborative ventures with colleagues elsewhere in Europe. It has four members of staff, including until July 2007 the late Harold Fox. Among the 10 research fellows Page (category C) works on rural settlements and landscapes as part of his contribution to the Victoria County History. The Centre’s spend from research income gained since 2001 has reached £690K, and staff have supervised 23 PhD students. Over the RAE period CELH’s full time staff produced six authored books, four edited books and 30 chapters and articles.

Dyer’s prolific publications have further advanced his international standing in the field of medieval economy and society. He has changed perceptions of the period, above all by deploying a wide range of evidence (archaeology and landscape) to reveal the activism, energy and initiatives of peasants and townsmen, empowered by changing opportunities.

Hopper (New Blood) has enlivened the theme of local allegiance in 1642-60 by reconnecting parish and national politics. His monograph has restored Thomas Fairfax’s overlooked political significance, and his AHRC-funded work on gentry honour has made accessible neglected materials.

Using interdisciplinary approaches, especially in a well-received monograph, Jones has re-energized debates on the origins of English villages and open-field farming. He has provided insights into the processes of landscape change, and given them a more precise chronology.

Snell has enhanced yet further his high profile by propelling forwards the themes of belonging to local societies, parish identities, welfare history and parochial reform in a substantial monograph and articles in prestigious journals.


Centre for Urban History

CUH, founded in 1985 represents one of the strongest concentrations of urban historians in Europe. Four academic staff are located within the Centre and they collaborate with other members of the School (e.g. Colls and Dyer) and many honorary fellows, including both of its former directors, Peter Clark and Richard Rodger.  CUH’s work is interdisciplinary, and its high international reputation is indicated by its continuing flow of overseas visitors. Its staff play a high profile role in such organizations as the Pre-Modern Towns Group, the Urban History Group, and the European Association of Urban Historians. Over the RAE period CUH’s spend from research income gained is £443K, and staff have supervised 26 PhD students. Since 2001 CUH’s current academic staff have published four authored books, three edited books and 34 chapters and articles.


Building on his acclaimed research on the Victorian middle class, Gunn has moved forward to the twentieth century with an edited book on ‘The spatial turn’ and an article on the English middle class. In a monograph and edited volume, he has shown how cultural theory is reshaping current historical practice.  

Kidambi has followed his two prize-winning articles on Bombay’s urban environment and society in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries with a substantial monograph on that city’s social history in this period, drawing on a variety of untapped archival sources, including police records.

Mettele’s (New Blood) research has focussed on community building and its spatial dimension, illustrated by studies of civil society, the role of women, and the Moravians, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Sweet’s definitive study of eighteenth-century antiquarianism has demonstrated its centrality to British culture, particularly in the construction of local and national identities. She has added to her international reputation as a social historian with work on gender, the family and politeness.


Sharing premises and facilities, CELH and CUH have much in common. Their concerns interlock and there is constant interaction between their staff and research students. The Directors of the Centres are appointed by the School for a three-year period to bear responsibility for managing the Centre’s teaching and research programme. The Directors (Dyer and Sweet) are leading international figures (Dyer is an FBA), able to provide both inspiration and leadership. Each Centre has a plan, and annual reports on activities are submitted to the SHS’s Research Committee and reviewed by its Management Committee. This forms part of an overall School planning process, the timetable of which is geared to the University’s resource allocation ‘round’.


Stanley Burton Centre for Holocaust Studies

Collective research within the Stanley Burton Centre focuses on an annual lecture and conference, and its unique ‘Holocaust in Contexts’ series of books, which have forged strong international contacts. It has three academic members of staff and two honorary fellows. They have published five books and 19 chapters and articles since 2001. The Centre’s staff co-organized the conferences on ‘How the Holocaust Looks Now’, ‘Perpetrators in Comparative Perspectives’, and ‘History and Memory after the Holocaust’ and have contributed to editing the collections of essays arising from these conferences.


The research of Davies (current Director) into German-Jewish Enlightenment culture has shown the crucial role played by David Friedländer, a previously neglected author. Davies’s book on ‘historics’ advocated a radically new way of thinking about history.

Drawing on hundreds of interviews conducted in Germany and elsewhere, Jensen’s research has contributed to the debate within Germany about Germans as ‘victims’ of the Third Reich. 

Szejnmann’s work has provided original insights into the value of comparative regional studies for a more nuanced understanding of the relationship between Germans and Nazism.


Centre for the History of Religious and Political Pluralism

The Centre for the History of Religious and Political Pluralism existed for most of the RAE period (2001-6), hosting 13 lectures by distinguished speakers and generating a number of volumes. Following the retirement of its Director Richard Bonney in 2006, the Centre’s regional programme of outreach and inter-faith work has been adopted by Leicester’s St Philip’s Centre.


Beyond the School’s Research Centres

Although the Centres play key roles in the SHS’s research programme, 20 additional staff members belong to less formal groupings, often interdisciplinary. These alliances between colleagues provide opportunities for sharing and shaping ideas, whether in seminars or more flexible discussion networks, reflecting their varied interests. They also have numerous connections with like-minded scholars in other institutions, and they actively collaborate with other disciplines.


American history

Campbell, Clapp, Johnstone and Lewis are linked through the Centre for American Studies to 11 other scholars across the University. It runs a programme of lectures and seminars and in 2007 hosted the annual conference of the British Association for American Studies (organised by Lewis).

Campbell’s book and articles on criminal justice in antebellum Richmond use previously untapped records to show how the experiences of slaves, free blacks and whites were related to the unique dynamics of the city’s urban-industrial slave society.

Clapp’s work on women’s political activism in the early republic is being recognized by American scholars as advancing the boundaries of women’s history.

In a published essay and in his forthcoming monograph, Johnstone has produced a closely-argued analysis of the debate among US politicians at the time of the creation of the United Nations.

By exploiting sources previously neglected by scholars, Lewis has persuaded us to rethink the complexities of the white segregationist response to civil rights activism in the US. In two books and four essays, he has overturned the traditional view of southern racists as monolithic reactionaries.


Medieval history

Bothwell, Housley and Story belong to a very active grouping of medieval historians which includes Dyer and Jones in CELH. Together they comprise a critical mass of scholars and between them they produce a formidable body of published work. Through the Medieval Research Centre (of which Story is co-director) they collaborate closely with medievalists elsewhere in the University in archaeology, art history and English.  

Bothwell has authored a detailed monograph, several articles and an edited volume which advance understanding of the high politics of England, especially its patronage system, in the fourteenth century.

Housley’s status as the world’s leading historian of crusading ideas and practices in the late Middle Ages leads to frequent invitations to speak to international conferences. He has set a new agenda with his monograph on religious warfare, and his study of post-war crusading scholarship has won much acclaim.

Story’s prize-winning monograph has explored the relationship between England and the continent in the Carolingian period. She has revealed aspects of this period’s cultural dynamics by co-ordinating an interdisciplinary team, including physicists and geologists, in her investigation of a ninth-century inscription at St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.


Early modern history

Aston, Coffey, Gentilcore and Harris (together with Sweet from CUH, and recently Dodds) make a coherent and lively grouping of historians of the early modern period, whose abundant publications demonstrate their common interest in religion and ideas from late Reformation to Enlightenment. They convene a research seminar series in early modern studies.

Aston’s published work, based on a formidable range of sources in France and Britain, has been at the forefront of recent scholarship demonstrating the centrality of religion in the public culture of eighteenth-century Europe.

Coffey has advanced our understanding of Puritanism with an important study of a controversial writer of the Puritan Revolution, John Goodwin, and substantial articles on Milton, Vane, Scottish Puritanism, heresy and toleration.

Gentilcore’s most recent monograph has redefined our notions of medical charlatanism. His two edited collections and numerous articles have made a fresh contribution to putting disease and healing back into their social and cultural context.

Harris innovates in the study of political thought by connecting it systematically with wider thought and with political conduct, with particular reference to the English Civil War, Locke and Burke.



Colonial, post-colonial and global history

The historians in this group bring together interests in different continents, Dodds in the Americas, Frenz in Asia and Africa, Kidambi (from CUH) in India, and Riedi in Africa, and all work on the interactions between different parts of the globe, both in colonial and post-colonial times. This group represents a fresh and vigorous venture into an exciting and expanding field, strengthened by Frenz’s recent appointment.

In her recent articles and forthcoming monograph, Dodds has made significant contributions to the debates about gender and violence in Mesoamerican culture, producing the only recent work on pre-conquest Aztec society derived principally from the alphabetic sources.

In her latest monograph, Frenz (New Blood post in global history), offers an intriguing perspective on the transition to British rule in south India in the late-eighteenth century, combining hitherto unknown Malayalam sources with a novel approach to the colonial encounter.

Riedi’s pioneering studies of women’s imperial activism in the Boer War period demonstrate the significance of women’s politics in the early-twentieth century and the importance of bringing women into analyses of popular imperialism.



Financial history

The methods and approaches of economic and social history are practised not just by CUH and CELH, and the colonial/post-colonial group, but also by Attard, Cottrell and Fearon who work on governmental and international finance, and by a category C researcher in maritime history, Williams.

Attard has undertaken a pioneering archive-based study of Australasian colonial borrowers which is revising our understanding of British imperialism and settler societies, with new insights into the dynamics and structure of the London stock market.

Cottrell’s position as an internationally respected historian of finance and banking is demonstrated by his commissioned monograph on the Ionian Bank, and by his numerous papers and contributions to European conferences. His work on financial institutions advances our understanding of industrialization.

Fearon’s monograph and papers on Kansas in the Great Depression cast new light on governmental intervention. He analyses the changing relationships between Washington and the states and, uniquely, stresses the challenges faced by social workers and clients.


Late modern European and British history

The scholars in this grouping have developed Leicester’s reputation for political, social and religious history by exploring the connections between them in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Britain (Colls and Ball), Germany (Szejnmann), Austria (Prestel) and Russia (Knox). Horrocks takes forward the Leicester tradition of research on the history of science.  

Ball has added to his reputation as a leading historian of the twentieth-century British Conservative Party, both in power and in opposition, including individual politicians (e.g. Churchill), and is about to complete his survey of the party between 1918 and 1945.

Colls’s book on Englishness won critical acclaim for its one thousand year history of this challenging subject. In three books, two co-edited and one single-edited, he has contributed essays which show how regional and social identity can be explored, and led others to adopt fresh approaches to regional and urban history.

Horrocks challenges the historiography of twentieth-century British science by convincingly reappraising aspects of industrial research and its wider context.

Knox’s research has challenged existing perceptions of the Orthodox Church in modern Russia, which was not the monolithic entity frequently portrayed by western analysts. Her first monograph, together with her articles and chapters, has influenced the development of a new field of research.

Using largely unpublished archival material in Germany, Israel, Australia and the USA, Prestel has produced studies of outsiders in Jewish society and advanced our understanding of German welfare policy, psychiatry and educational theories in Weimar Germany.



1.2 Research infrastructure


The University expects and facilitates the pursuit of a programme of advanced research by every academic. The Main Library has a strong printed collection including much material published before its establishment in the 1920s. It has substantial holdings of nineteenth-century periodicals and official publications, and the largest collection of local history material in the UK. Effective use of these resources will be facilitated by the completion of a £32 million extension and refurbishment programme. The Digital Library is rapidly expanding with e-books, e-periodicals, e-newspapers and e-reference materials available on-line, including EEBO, ECCO and the ODNB.


The University provides staff the time to engage in research in archives and libraries, not just through its generous study leave scheme (see below), but also by encouraging colleagues to apply to research councils and other funding bodies for longer periods of absence. Its Research Support Office advises on such applications, whereas the Research Committees at School, Faculty and University levels endeavour to ensure that staff respond to opportunities for grant applications, including collaborative projects. The University’s ongoing New Blood Lectureship scheme has proved to be an outstanding example of the proactive recruitment of new members of staff to enhance centres of research excellence.


1.3 Research Income


The repeated success of Leicester historians in their applications for research funding reflects the high regard in which they are held in the academic community. Research grants contributed to the productivity and the intellectual life of SHS in terms of publications and the appointment of staff in early career as research associates. Foundations have also been laid for further significant outputs in the future.


SHS staff raised in 2001-7 research income totalling £2,278,935 compared with £720K reported to the previous RAE. Nine members of staff (Ball, Clapp, Coffey, Cull, Gentilcore, Housley, Lewis, Story and Sweet) received AHRB/C funding for research leave to enable them to finish books, and similar grants have been awarded by the Paul Mellon Foundation (to Aston) and the Leverhulme Trust (to Thatcher). Larger grants enabled individuals to embark on projects over two or three years: Anderson and Bowen from the ESRC; Gentilcore from Leverhulme for work on the reception and impact of New World plants in Italy; and Colls from Leverhulme for the investigation of sporting heroes in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Britain. Fox gained a British Academy Research Readership to work on medieval Dartmoor. Gentilcore participates in a Strategic Award shared with the University of Warwick from The Wellcome Trust which allows him to employ a Research Assistant, Storey. A grant consisting of £55K from the Alpha Bank, Athens, enabled Cottrell to write the history of the Ionian Bank. Research funding on a larger scale has allowed the employment of staff to pursue projects which extend and deepen existing research interests, and benefit the whole School by bringing in new colleagues who have made their own academic contribution. Among staff returned in this RAE, Dodds, Jones, Page and Riedi have all been employed as a consequence of senior colleagues winning research grants.


Notable projects include a grant of £311K (2001-4) from the Pakistan government for the work of the Centre for the History of Religious and Political Pluralism on such themes as Christian-Muslim relations. CUH embarked on the intensive collection of oral testimony through the East Midlands Oral History Archive, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (£334K, 2001-4). This preserved transient evidence for posterity, while providing opportunities for developing the methodology of oral history and strengthening the School’s links with the region. In CELH grants totalling £400K from the AHRC, and £19K from other sources, were obtained for research into medieval settlement and landscape in the Whittlewood area. This furthered the Centre’s long-term interest in landscape history and the origins of villages, strengthened links with the archaeologists at Leicester and at five other universities, and created new contacts with place-name specialists at Nottingham and with palaeoecologists at Royal Holloway College. CUH has been successful in hosting successful applicants for two ESRC postdoctoral fellowships, and a British Academy Post Doctoral Fellowship (total value £66K). A further ESRC post-doctoral fellow worked alongside the School’s financial historians.  CELH received £97K from the Marc Fitch Fund for the completion of the English Surnames Survey.  In addition to funding academic research directly, grants have also been used to maintain and improve library provision (in the Main University Library and CELH) and to take initiatives in organizing conferences (e.g. ‘Engaging the Islamic World’; ‘How the Holocaust Looks Now’; ‘Hoskins and the British Landscape’), networks (Convicts Discussion Network; Local Notables and the Nazi Party; Perceptions of Medieval Landscape and Settlement), and a dataset co-ordinating international research on saints’ cults. The activities described in this paragraph have already led to the publication of nine books.


1. 4 Research students


The growth since 2000 in the number of research students springs from the School’s active MA programmes, which during 2001-7 attracted annually between 15 and 36 students. They include those embarking on the first stage of a PhD, and the vigour of the MA programmes ensures a healthy recruitment of research students. In CUH, support from ESRC has funded 15 MA students through to PhD and post-doctoral research, and CELH has gained four studentships for both MA and PhD students from AHRC. Five of the MA programmes have achieved recognition from the ESRC. Of self-funded students, some gain help to pay fees or other costs from funds managed by the University. The Stanley Burton Centre and CELH’s Hoskins-Duffield fund provided financial assistance in this way. The numerous part-time mature students recruited, mostly from the East Midlands, represent an important point of contact between SHS and the regional community.


SHS and the University have devised programmes and procedures which meet the needs of postgraduate students. Each student is allocated to both a supervisor and an advisor who (with the Postgraduate Tutor), monitor the student's progress and requirements. The University has a robust reporting and monitoring system. After a year of full-time study, or two years for part-timers, students progress from ‘advanced postgraduate’ status to PhD registration by presenting a substantial body of writing to a formal panel.


Generic training is provided by both the Social Science and Arts faculties which covers such subjects as quantitative methods, research design and methods, working in archives, IT and time management. Training seminars include advice on post-doctoral opportunities and career development. A training schedule is also provided which is tailored to the requirements of ESRC and AHRC. Language training is offered by the Language Services Unit. Leicester students in economic and social history attend seminar and training programmes organised by ESTER, the IHR, those provided by the EHS, and the Venice International Summer School on Financial History. Within SHS research students attend various seminar programmes and conferences. In the later stages of their thesis writing they are strongly encouraged when ready to give papers at seminars and conferences, e.g. the Economic History, Urban History and Agricultural History conferences. Six did so in the 2005-7 period. There are opportunities to develop professional skills including undergraduate teaching, and eight of Leicester’s research students have gained university lectureships since 2001.


More than 100 students in the SHS are registered for MA and PhD degrees at any given time (for example in October 2006 there were 109). They form an active community of scholarship based since 2003 in a large, refurbished Victorian house in Salisbury Road. Research students have their own desks, a common room and a computer suite. All have access to the central computer systems together with the high quality electronic and printed resources of the University Library. Library staff provide research skills training.


Research students support each other, and since 2004 they have run their own seminar programme which allows them to try out ideas. CUH postgraduates organize an annual workshop attended by students from other universities, which receives financial support from the Economic History Society. Such is the esprit de corps in CELH that students participate in the Centre’s activities both before and after graduation, through a ‘Friends’ organization that holds conferences and field visits, and publishes an annual Newsletter and occasional papers.



1.5 Staffing policy


University and School policies emphasize achievement in research as a key element in academic careers and appointments. Achievement in research plays a central part in the University’s procedures for promotion to senior lectureships, readerships and personal Chairs: six members of the School were promoted to Chairs and nine to Readerships within the RAE period. Research grants, significant publications, the organization of conferences and similar activities are among the achievements for which individuals may be awarded bonus payments, accelerated increments and discretionary points on the pay scale.


SHS’s appointments policy is shaped by the need to sustain and strengthen its research programmes. This is demonstrated by open-ended appointments in 2005-7 to the Research Centres. The University acknowledged the reputations of both CELH and CUH by awarding each of them a New Blood Lectureship. The post in CELH was filled by Hopper, and that in CUH by Mettele. The University also appointed Gunn to a Chair in Urban History located in CUH. In addition the appointment of Jensen to a lectureship in Holocaust Studies was designed to aid the research development of the Stanley Burton Centre. In the case of these four appointments, the potential of candidates to contribute to the strategic development of the Research Centre in the near future played a major role both in the short-listing process and in the interview procedure, in which the Head of School and the Director of the Centres involved  participated. A similar approach was followed in the case of the third New Blood lectureship, to which Margret Frenz was appointed, designed to sustain SHS’s specialism in colonial and global history.


Recent retirements and departures have provided the School with the opportunity to recruit talented newcomers. Appointments are invariably made at post-doctoral level, with the expectation that candidates have strengths in research and will already have publications. Mentoring and appraisal encourage new staff to pursue a research strategy. Colleagues are eligible to apply for a semester’s study leave after completing three years of employment. Research activity is monitored through appraisal, research interviews that focus on future development, grant applications and the recruitment of research students. The results of study leave are formally reported. Occasionally special leaves can be granted, or ‘light semesters’ arranged, and staff embarking on a new grant application can obtain ‘seed-corn’ funding. Staff are expected to participate in Staff Development courses on such topics as grant applications. When staff return from extended leave, for example maternity leave, their reintegration into the School’s research culture is monitored by the Head of School and the Chair of the Research Committee.


The School has developed policies to advance research. Colleagues are encouraged to apply for grants to research councils and trusts so that they can devote their time exclusively to research. The School provides financial support for staff to attend scholarly meetings. The Research Committee is responsible for implementing the School’s research strategy. It keeps in touch with developments through the University and Faculty committees and reports to the School. Its Chair conducts research interviews and advises on drafts of research grant applications.


2. The national and international research environment


Seminar series within the School provide an opportunity for communicating the results of research, both among Leicester historians, and between them and the wider historical community. Well established regular seminars are held in Early Modern History, English Local History, Post-Colonial Studies, and Urban History, and a Holocaust seminar series was initiated in 2006-7.


A series of occasional seminars by both distinguished visitors and colleagues began in 2005-6. The School has adopted the ‘brown bag’ seminar (at which colleagues present informal papers for discussion at lunch time) which had been a tradition of the former Economic and Social History Department. A more recent development has been an informal ‘Reading Group’ who discuss texts from a range of disciplines. In addition, Leicester historians join in interdisciplinary seminars elsewhere in the University, such as those hosted by the Medieval Research Centre, while some are involved in organizing series, both historical and inter-disciplinary, outside Leicester, such as the Midlands South Asia Seminar, by Kidambi, or the US History seminar at the IHR, by Clapp.


Many important conferences have been held at Leicester. Some were organized from within the University on the initiative of members of the School, notably on British (medieval) Books in a European Context (2002); Medieval Monasticism (2003); the History of the Future (on film) (2003); Urban Environment/Disasters (2004); the Holocaust after 60 years (2005); W.G. Hoskins and the British Landscape (2005), Fifty Years in Space (2007). A dozen day-conferences have been held, including events in CUH (e.g. on the eighteenth-century book trade), in CELH (e.g. on the self-contained village), and the Stanley Burton Centre (e.g. on Perpetrators of the Holocaust). Coffey organized a symposium on Puritanism. Leicester regularly welcomes the annual conferences of learned societies. These are attracted by the high research profile of Leicester historians and by the excellent conference facilities at Leicester’s Halls of Residence. High points have been the visits of the Seminar in the History of the Book (2002), Social History Society (2004); Urban History Group (2005); Economic History Society (2005); Agricultural History Society (2005); Vernacular Architecture Group (2006); British Association for American Studies (2007); and Ecclesiastical History Society (2007). The Medieval Settlement Research Group regularly holds its winter symposium in Leicester, and in 2007 Dyer organized a series of AHRC-funded workshops as part of the Landscape and Environment programme. Leicester historians are also involved in regular conference series that meet elsewhere (such as the Urban History Group and the European Urban History Group, by Rodger, or the BrANCH series, by Clapp, or the Pre-Modern Towns Group by Sweet, or the European Association for Banking History by Cottrell), or they put together strands or sessions in their specialism at larger conferences held outside Leicester (e.g. a panel at the Society for Scottish Eighteenth Century Studies by Aston, or a session by Gentilcore for the Sixteenth Century Studies Conference).


Conferences and seminars also provide a means of contact with people in the East Midlands region: recent initiatives in this direction include the work of the East Midlands Oral History Archive, the annual Brixworth lecture on Anglo-Saxon studies, and events run through the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society, such as a conference on migration into Leicester in 2002.


Part of the strength of historical research at Leicester resides in its links with other disciplines and other institutions. Many of the themes explored are necessarily interdisciplinary, notably the social sciences in the case of those engaged in economic and social history (e.g. Attard, Cottrell, and the staff of CELH and CUH), social theory (Davies, Gunn), political science (Ball, Colls, Harris), natural science (Horrocks), philosophy (Davies), psychology (Jensen), literature (Colls, Davies, Snell), film studies (Jensen), art history (Aston, Colls, Sweet) and archaeology and geography (Dyer, Jones and Story).


In pursuit of their particular research interests Leicester historians belong to numerous workshops, networks, research groups and other organizations which bring them into contact with colleagues outside SHS or outside Leicester. Examples include Jensen’s membership of networks studying oral history, or the collaborative Anglo-French sessions in which Harris plays a leading role. Bothwell belongs to a transatlantic group working on royal minorities in the later Middle Ages. Riedi participates in a project based at De Montfort University on sport and the armed services.


Some of the projects bring SHS into collaboration with institutions other than universities. The work of the East Midland Oral History Archive for example was supported by Leicestershire County Council, Leicester City Council, and other local government organisations. The archive’s staff were involved in an oral history of a local electrical company, Wathes. In 2006 the personnel of MACE (the Media Archive for Central England) relocated into the same premises as the Oral History Archive and fruitful collaboration between the SHS and MACE is underway. Dyer’s Whittlewood project was assisted by officers of Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire County Councils, and led to collaboration with English Heritage. SHS members (e.g. Harris) have fruitful research links with the National Maritime Museum. In their mission to spread knowledge of and interest in history, SHS members write articles for popular journals such as the BBC History Magazine. Colls, Cottrell, Davies, Dyer, Horrocks, Housley, Jensen, Jones, Story, Sweet and Szejnmann have all appeared on radio and TV programmes, and Colls has advised on two TV series. Contributions to the enhancement of teaching include the development by Story of Carolingian estate surveys as a teaching tool, a paper by Szejnmann on teaching methods to a public workshop in Kiel, and e-learning developments by Horrocks.



3. Research strategy 2007-2012


The School’s research strategy is informed by various impulses: its own research structure, the interests of individual colleagues, and in response to initiatives from funding bodies. It is the responsibility of the Head of School, together with the School Management Committee, the School’s Research Committee and the Directors of the Research Centres, to ensure that these impulses work in synergy, but a sense of ownership across the School is maintained by the discussion of research in seminars and at staff meetings and Away Days. The School will build on established and distinctive Leicester strengths while responding creatively to the rapid change and diversity that characterise contemporary historical research.


CELH will strengthen its coverage of the medieval and early modern periods, and will bring local political life (especially in the seventeenth century) into the range of its themes, through the appointment of Hopper. The ‘Explorations in Local History’ series (in conjunction with the University of Hertfordshire), begun in 2006, is attracting high quality outputs from Leicester and elsewhere. Further funded research projects are planned, as are website developments, together with the extension of research into social history and landscape history with an emphasis on culture and mentality. Dyer will show how town and country interacted to generate the social and economic energy of 1490-1530. Hopper’s second monograph will transform understandings of civil war allegiances, while his edition of an eighteenth-century travel narrative gives a bottom-up view of Britain’s emerging maritime empire. Jones is spearheading the exploration of medieval perceptions of landscapes, in particular their implications for social expression and identity-building. Snell’s research will focus on the oral history of belonging and local identities; on the theme of ‘community’; and on narratives or voices of the poor in the nineteenth century. Conferences on local history are planned for 2008 and 2009.


CUH will continue to develop its wider European and global connections, developing collaborative research projects in the field of European urban history with particular reference to the EC’s Framework 7 programme. A major conference on colonial cities is planned for 2009, alongside conferences on the social and cultural history of the twentieth-century city, and on female migration and service in the same period. CUH will continue to support the work of the East Midlands Oral History Archive and the Media Archive for Central England through grant applications led by Gunn. Drawing on oral testimony, film and photography neglected by most historians, Gunn will reveal the role of industrial decline in transforming British urban society, 1945-90. Sweet’s work on the Grand Tour will show how cities and their past were perceived by British travellers. She is planning a project on chapbooks and urban culture with honorary fellow John Hinks and colleagues in London. Mettele will complete her book on garden suburbs around Paris and Berlin in the 1920s and Kidambi will begin new work on the Indian urban middle classes and is planning a book on the colonial dimensions of cricket.  Gunn and Sweet will continue to edit Urban History, as well as overseeing the publication of Papers in Urban History.


The Stanley Burton Centre will develop publications arising out of its conferences and regular research seminar programme. A distinguishing feature of the series is its use of the Centre’s contacts with early career researchers in Europe and the USA. The Centre has initiated two oral history projects. Davies will extend his work on the theory of history, including a further book on the social function of academic knowledge. Szejnmann will publish a comprehensive and challenging book on the rise of the Nazis, while his monograph on Nazism from a regional perspective will also break fresh ground. Jensen intends to bring Britain into his international research network by undertaking a systematic investigation into memories of the Second World War.  


Among the School’s medieval historians, Housley will write a monograph on attempts to revive crusading between 1453 and 1503. New research on manuscripts, epigraphy, archaeology and texts will underpin Story’s reappraisal of the cultural politics of Carolingian Europe; while she will compile the East Midland volume of the British Academy’s Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Sculpture. Bothwell will complete a study of aristocratic politics in the later middle ages, and intends to develop a new interest in medieval charity.


The School’s early modern group all plan books. Gentilcore will undertake a systematic and comparative study of how New World foodstuffs were received into Italy. Coffey’s interest in Protestantism and intellectual change is taking him forward into the eighteenth century where he will pursue far-reaching projects on how English-speaking Presbyterians embraced toleration and how Evangelicals read Enlightenment texts. Aston plans a book on the cultural politics of the eighteenth century, and Harris, having done much groundwork, expects to complete three volumes centred on Burke.


Among the American historians, Campbell is currently working on an imaginative new interpretation of the connections between race, law enforcement and violence in the northern US from 1865 to the 1920s. Building on her work on early American women’s public roles, Clapp will refine existing analytical frameworks. Johnstone’s book on internationalism will appear in 2008, after which he intends to work on the origins of World War II from a US perspective. Lewis will examine the 200-year history of the term ‘un-Americanism’, focusing on its relationship to both ideas of national identity and subversive radicalism.


The work of the colonial, post-colonial and global group will involve more networking, conference organization and projects with other universities. Riedi’s co-authored book on sport and empire will be followed by an exploration of the interplay between women’s politics and the Boer War. Applying her insights on Precolumbian society to the colonial period, Dodds will research the dynamic interactions of the Atlantic world, giving particular attention to the British/Spanish relationship in Central America. Frenz will explore the historical links between various regions of the southern hemisphere, focusing on Goan migrants and their transnational status.


Among the group involved in the history of international finance, Attard will use his ESRC-funded and recently-completed databases to write the first archive-based study of Australasia and the London capital markets in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and Cottrell expects to produce the second volume on the nineteenth-century Ionian Bank, and to bring to completion various projects which are already far advanced on Austrian banking, private banking, and Sterling.


Among those who work on Britain and Europe since 1800, Ball will build on his earlier projects to complete a substantial book on the Conservative Party in the period 1918-45, followed by a biography of Baldwin. Colls will write a book showing modern sport to be one of Britain’s truly great inventions. Horrocks’s research on women scientists will continue to offer novel insights into the historiography of post-1945 science and technology. Using previously unexplored material in the Russian archives, Knox will use the history of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in the USSR and Russia to reassess concepts of freedom and ideology in an original and exciting way. Prestel intends to combine oral history with archival sources to study the pre-1933 German Jewish family.



4. Esteem indicators (*=early career researcher)



  • keynote to conferences on Regions and Regionalism, Sunderland; plenary to Franco-British conference on national identity in Lille.
  • visiting fellow, St John’s College, Oxford; Yale University Center for British Art; Gambrinus Fellow, University of Dortmund
  • patron, North East Institute
  • editorial board, Northern Review


  • co-editor, Financial History Review
  • visiting professor, University of Geneva; honorary fellow, LSE
  • academic programme organiser (three years) for conferences of European Association for Banking History
  • chair etc. of European Association for Banking History


  • Ford’s lecturer, University of Oxford
  • Earl lecture, Keele; Jones Pierce lecture, Aberystwyth; plenary, Anglo-American conference, IHR; keynote, North American Conference on British Studies, Philadelphia
  • chair, Records of Social and Economic History, British Academy Research Project
  • president, Agricultural History Society; president, Society for Medieval Archaeology
  • chair, Victoria County History Committee, IHR
  • co-organiser, conference on town and country 1100-1500, York
  • editorial boards, Historia Agraria; Yearbook of Langland Studies; Agricultural History Review; Fifteenth Century; Economic and Social History Review (China)


  • Luebke prize award (for article)
  • D.Litt degree, La Trobe University
  • Bernard Bailey lecture, La Trobe
  • secretary, Economic History Society
  • visiting fellow, Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge; University of Kansas
  • academician of the Academy of Social Sciences


  • keynote, conference on charlatans, Prato
  • editorial board, Food and Foodways and Medicina & Storia
  • two books translated into Italian
  • visiting fellow, Harvard Center for Italian Renaissance Studies, Florence; McMaster University
  • co-organiser, sessions at conferences of Mediterranean Studies Association, Genoa; Renaissance Society of America, Toronto; at Wellcome Trust, London


  • co-organiser, Urban History Group conference (4 years); Theorizing the Modern City strand, ESSHC Berlin
  • visiting professor, University of Melbourne; University of Montreal
  • ESRC research seminar panel
  • editor, Urban History
  • plenary, Elites and Modernisation, Groningen


  • book translated into German
  • editor,  Crusade Texts in Translation
  • invited plenary, Fighting for the Faith, Odense
  • Academic committee, Society for the Study of the Crusades conference, Avignon


  • Editor, Rural History
  • external assessor, chair appointments at six universities, including Auckland and Simon Fraser
  • invited keynote lecture, Narratives of Poverty, Hagen



  • editor, Urban History
  • editorial board, Citta e Storia
  • Wolfson lecture; plenary, conference of Australian network for Early European Research
  • advisory board, Centre for Metropolitan History, IHR




  • visiting fellow, Beinecke Library, Yale; Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Mass.; Lewis Walpole Library, Yale; Yale Center for the Study of British Art
  • editorial board, French History
  • council, Church of England Record Society
  • referee, British Journal for Eighteenth Century Studies; Catholic Historical Review; French History; Historical Journal; Journal of Ecclesiastical History
  • organiser, panel for Society for Scottish Eighteenth Century Studies, Charleston


  • editorial board, Parliamentary History
  • treasurer, Parliamentary History Trust
  • referee,Contemporary British History;  English Historical Review; Historical  Research; Journal of British Studies; Parliamentary History


  • organiser of symposium on Puritanism
  • referee, Church History, Harvard Theological Studies, Historical Journal


  • editor, Holocaust in Contexts (book series)
  • visiting fellow, University of Potsdam


  • committee member, British Association for American Studies
  • referee, Pacific History Review; Journal of American Studies


  • editorial boards, METIS: Zeitschrift für Historische Frauenforschung und Feministische Praxis; Schriftenreihe Studien und Dokumente zur Jüdischen Bildungsgeschichte
  • committee, Arbeitkreis ‘Geschichte der Jüdischen Wohlfahrt in Deutschland’


  • editor Holocausts in Contexts (book series)
  • plenaries at conferences on Die Brueder Stauffenberg, Stuttgart; Transformations-Prozesse, London; Regionen im Nationalsozialismus, Schleswig
  • visiting fellow, University of Flensburg
  • committee, German Historical Society


Senior Lecturers


  • treasurer, British American Nineteenth Century History Committee
  • co-organiser, BrANCH conferences
  • referee, American Nineteenth Century History; Journal of the Early Republic
  • co-convenor, IHR seminar on American History


  • prize of International Society of Anglo-Saxonists for best first book
  • editor, Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological Society
  • committee of International Society of Anglo-Saxonists
  • bye fellow, Newnham College, Cambridge
  • hosted British Academy visiting fellow, Joshua Westgard




  • visiting fellow, Melbourne University
  • referee, Australian Economic History Review; Australian Journal of Politics and History; Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History


  • referee,  Antiquity; English Historical Review


  • edition of Burke translated into Chinese
  • plenaries, conferences on Locke Tricentenary, Yale; toleration in 17th Century, British Academy; Maurice Cowling, Leeds; and to Parliamentary History Society’s annual conference, IHR
  • visiting fellow, University of Southampton; National Maritime Museum;  Huntington Library
  • editorial board, Cités: philosophie, politique, histoire


  • referee, History


  • review editor, Economic History Review
  • plenaries, Science since 1945, IHR; food chain conference, Gödöllö, Hungary
  • secretary, and chair of programmes committee, Council of the British Society for the History of Science
  • referee, British Journal for the History of Science; Business History; Economic History Review; Medical History; Social and Cultural History; Technology and Culture


  • editor, Holocaust in Contexts
  • advisor to Centre for Interdisciplinary Memory Research, Essen
  • plenaries,  Die Brueder Stauffenberg, Stuttgart; Transformations-Prozesse, London; Regionen im Nationalsozialismus, Schleswig


  • committee member, Medieval  Settlement  Research Group;  Society for Landscape Studies  
  • referee, Landscapes
  • external examiner,  MSC in Landscape Archaeology, University of Oxford


  • Dyos prize and Herman Diederiks prize (for different articles)


  • keynote, Crossing Borders conference, Arizona State; and at Woodrow Wilson International Center
  • referee, Australian Slavonic and East European Studies; Journal of Religious History; Religion, State and Society
  • review editor, Australian Slavonic and East European Studies


  • editor Transatlantische Historische Studien (book series)
  • co-organiser of conferences on migration, 1830-1930, German Historical Institute, Washington DC; religious communication, 1680-1830, German Historical Institute, London organiser of panel on Caribbean encounters, for German Studies Association, San Diego



Additionally, 16 members of staff have acted as readers for book proposals and typescripts for 20 publishers (including the main British university presses), and 16 have acted as external examiners for 41 PhDs.



The School has welcomed many distinguished visitors, both as speakers and as collaborators. CELH have been visited by Sir Tony Wrigley and Igor Filippov; among CUH's visitors were Professors Baba, Sato and Kawana from Japan, and Tittler from the US; Professors Goodman-Thau, Pohl and Welzer have spoken at the Stanley Burton Centre; the American historians have welcomed Mary Beth Norton and Sir Christopher Frayling.