Departmental Profiles

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Dr Jeremy Burchardt


Dr Burchardt’s research interests are in the history of nineteenth – and twentieth-century English rural society. In particular, He is interested in landing holding by rural workers and the allotment movement in the nineteenth century and in leisure provision in the countryside in the twentieth century. His interests also include related issues such as the changing balance of power in rural areas, the decline of the aristocracy, middle-class migration to the countryside, rural preservationism and attitudes to the countryside.

Professor Paul Davies


Professor Davies’ research focuses primarily on architecture in Italy 1350-1650. Particular areas of interest include centrally- planned churches and the architectural response to miracles; architecture in Venice and the Veneto; and Italian Renaissance architectural drawings.

Professor Joel Felix


Professor Felix is a historian of the Ancien Regime and the French Revolution. Initially, his research focused on political crises, in particular conflicts between the Parliaments and the Crown. Over the years, he has developed an interest in fiscal issues which offers the possibility of revisiting a number of debates about the early modern state and society. He is now exploring those questions within the wider European context and the struggle for great power status in the long 18th century.

Dr Rachel Foxley


Dr Foxley’s research interests are in the intellectual history of early modern Britain and Europe. Recent work focuses on the Levellers and the political thought of the English Revolution. She is now moving to a broader study of the gendering of early modern republicanism and its relationship to the concept of “democracy”.

Professor Lindy Grant


Professor Grant’s research interests range across politics, religion and culture in Capetian France and its neighbours in the 11th and 13th centuries, and her approach is essentially interdisciplinary. She has a particular interest in questions of cultural identity, in patronage and the representation of power and rulership, and in the cultural impact of ecclesiastical reform.

Dr Anne Mathers Lawrence


Dr Lawrence’s research interests are in the history of writing, book production and manuscript illumination in England and Normandy from the 10th to the 13th centuries. This includes particular emphases on the ownership and production of books by women, and on the role of books in creating and disseminating cultural identities in the medieval period.

Dr Simon Lee


Dr Lee’s research covers aspects of French and Spanish art in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries with particular emphasis on Jacques – Louis David, Eugene Delacroix and Frencisco Goya. He also particularly interested in the relationship between the visual arts and the social and political upheavals of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic periods, including the imagery and ideology of territorial conquest and colonization.

Professor Patrick Major


Professor Major’s research interests are primarily political, social and cultural history of divided Germany in the Cold War. He has recently completed a large project on the rise and fall of the Berlin Wall. He is currently undertaking a project on Anglo-American and German film depictions of “bad Nazis” and “good Germans”, which has been funded by the British Academy.

Dr Elizabeth Matthew

Dr Matthew’s research interests are in the political and social history of late medieval England and Ireland, with particular emphasis on the government of the English lordship or Ireland in the Lancastrian period; the formation of royal policy for Ireland in the context of English politics and concerns elsewhere.

Dr Hannah Newton 


I am a social historian of early modern England, specialising in the history of medicine and health, emotion and spirituality, and family and childhood. I started lecturing at the University of Reading in October 2014, having completed a Wellcome Trust Medical Humanities Fellowship at the University of Cambridge (2011-2014). I’m currently writing a book entitled, Miserie to Mirth: Recovery from Illness in Early Modern England. It asks how doctors and laypeople defined and explained recovery, and investigates the personal experiences of recovering patients and their loved ones. I became interested in this subject whilst preparing my first book, The Sick Child in Early Modern England, published by Oxford University Press in 2012 (paperback edition, 2014). Amongst the heartrending accounts of children’s illnesses and deaths, I encountered joyful recoveries, such as the case of eleven-year-old Martha Hatfield, whose parents’ ‘hearts did rejoyce with a kind of trembling’ at the sight of her on her feet after nine months sickness in 1652. The book’s ultimate aim is to rebalance our picture of early modern health and happiness, which has tended to be skewed towards the gloomier topics of disease and death.

Dr Mara Oliva 


My predominant area of research concerns the political history of the United States in the twentieth century, with particular consideration paid to the interaction between domestic and foreign policy. I am currently completing a monograph manuscript entitled: The Eisenhower Administration, American Public Opinion and the People’s Republic of China. This project was funded by the Scouloudi Historical AwardThe US-UK Fulbright CommissionThe European Association of American Studiesthe Royal Historical Society,  the British Association of American Studies  and the University of London.

Professor Helen Parish


Head of the Department of History, Professor Parish’s research interests lie in Early religious and cultural history, particularly the Reformation in England and Europe. After completing a study of clerical marriage in the era of the Reformation, her recent research has focused upon Reformation perceptions of the medieval past, with a particular interest in the lives of saints and the English Church, and attitudes to miracles and magic in the early modern period. Current projects include a history of clerical celibacy in the west.

Dr Rebecca Rist


Dr Rebecca Rist’s research interests include the papacy, the medieval Church, the history of crusading, Jewish-Christian relations and heresy. Her book The Papacy and Crusading in Europe, 1198-1245 (Continuum, 2009) examines the papacy’s authorisation of crusades against heretics and political enemies in Europe during the first half of the thirteenth century. Her book The Cathars and the Albiogensian Crusade: A Sourcebook, ed. C. Leglu, R. Rist and C. Taylor (Routledge, 2014) brings together a rich and diverse range of medieval sources to examine key aspects of the growth of heresy and dissent in southern France in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Recent articles by Dr Rist have explored aspects of papal policy with regard to crusading and the papacy’s treatment of heretics and Jews in the High Middle Ages. Dr Rist is currently completing a book on the papacy and the Jews in the High Middle Ages for Oxford University Press.

Professor Clare Robertson

Professor Robertson’s research centres on Italian Renaissance and early Baroque art, especially in Rome. She has written on patronage, particularly of the Farnese family. She is currently finishing a book, Rome 1600. The City and the Visual Arts under Clement VIII, to be published by Yale University Press.

Professor Heike Schmidt


Professor Schmidt is a historian of modern Africa, with area of speciality being the history of East Africa and Southern Africa, in particular Tanzania and Zimbabwe in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Her research focuses on violence and conflict, compared colonialisms, gender, religion and social identities. In her research she has applied a range of approaches, notably social history, gender history, new colonial history, and historical anthropology.

Professor David Stack


Professor Stack is an intellectual historian with a particular interest in the interaction of radical thought and natural science. His research and teaching interests are focused around the writings of John Stuart Milll and Charles Darwin and the legacy of their thought in the socialist, eugenics, and birth control movements.

Dr Jacqui Turner


Dr Turner is broadly interested in C19th and early C20th issues of gender, childhood and cultural identity including secularization, feminism, children’s history and that heady mix of working class politics and religion. Her current research is largely based in the Nancy Astor Archive at the University of Reading’s Special Collections and at Cliveden House; Her current project ‘Battleaxes and Benchwarmers’ reassesses the contribution of early female MPs, particularly married MPs between1919 and 1931. She is also the responsible for Departmental Outreach and Widening Participation.

Dr Emily West


Dr West is interested in issues of race and gender in American history and her research interests are in the history of US slavery and the antebellum South. She is particularly interested in gender and slavery, especially the lives of enslaved women and the relationships between enslaved spouses.

Professor Matthew Worley

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Professor Worley’s areas of interest lay in twentieth-century British politics. To date, he has concentrated mainly on the interwar years, with a particular interest in the British labour movement. He has also written on communism in Britain and in Europe, while his research into Sir Oswald Mosley’s New Party led him to work on the far right of the British political spectrum. His current research interest is directed towards the link between politics and youth culture in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He is currently part of the steering committee for the Interdisciplinary Network for the Study of Subculture, Popular Music and Social Change. 

You can find out more about our department in our ‘Spotlight On…’ series, here. 

1 Response to Departmental Profiles

  1. Robert Rae says:

    The website answers the questions about the Cathar and pictures the Holy Grail.

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