I am an historian of modern Britain, with a particular interest in gender, religion, and activism during the twentieth century.
I have recently completed my doctoral thesis, entitled Smashing the Stained Glass Ceiling: An Exploration of the Campaign for Women’s Ordination in Church of England, 1968-1994. My thesis is the first extended historical study of the post-1968 campaign for women’s ordination in the Church of England. This campaign had a transformative impact on the lives of Christian women. Yet historians know comparatively little about the campaign, nor its impact on the lives of those taking part in activism. Whilst a plethora of literature has emerged which has examined religious women’s activism pre-1940, the historiographies of religion and feminism in the post-war era have remained remarkably separate. My thesis therefore seeks to challenge this separation by exploring the lived religious experiences of Christian women campaigning for the ordination of women to the priesthood in the period after 1968. In centring the activism of middle-aged and older women who populated this successful campaign, my thesis makes an important contribution to the fields of British social history, the history of activism, and the scholarship surrounding social movements. Significantly, my research challenges the historiographical polarisation of religious history and feminist scholarship in post-war Britain by arguing that faith and spirituality must be integrated into discussions of the ‘personal as political’.
By adopting a two-pronged methodological approach, which combines 25 original life story oral interviews with rarely-used archival material, my thesis seeks to address four research questions. Firstly, who was campaigning for women’s ordination? Secondly, what forms did their activism take? Thirdly, how did Christian women feel, experience, and interpret their activism and the activism of those around them? Finally, why has the campaign for women’s ordination been omitted from feminist explorations of women’s activism? Through prioritising the experiences of the men and women who reimagined and redefined the sacramental and leadership roles of women in the Church of England my thesis provides a much-needed extension of our understandings of late-twentieth-century Christian radical thought, women’s activism, and the professionalisation of women’s work.
I currently teach:
History of the British Isles VI: c.1830-1951
Britain in the Seventies
Approaches to History (Classes taught on Women, Gender, and Sexuality, and Sociology)
History of the British Isles VII: Changing Identities, 1900-Present