I am a historian of modern Britain and its empire with teaching interests that include European, imperial, Atlantic World, and global history. My current book project, “Teaching Britain: Elementary Education, State, and Society, 1846-1902,” follows teachers as they scaled the walls of their teacher training colleges to smoke and flirt, engaged with peoples and cultures from around the globe as they traveled on their summer holidays, and used knowledge gained from their sustained intimacy with working-class families to critique the way the state sought to know and govern. My next project will explore the feverish popularity of light-handed – yet decidedly activist – techniques of imperial rule that brought together capitalist and humanitarian sensibilities in the post-emancipation British West Indies.
In the classroom I work with students to master both the broad context of long-term developments and the specific, textured stories of individual historical actors, events, ideas, or artistic works. In particular, I stress the ability to situate specific stories within their broader context. Learning to think on both these levels forces us to confront through thorny methodological questions surrounding agency and the often halting, uneven progress of seemingly straightforward changes over time. My teaching also stresses the connections between culture and politics, the state and society, one nation and another, Europe and its empires.