AHRC CDP Studentship - Growing Up Queer: 1790-1918

Applications are invited for an AHRC-funded Collaborative Doctoral Partnership (CDP) award in the Faculty of History at the University of Oxford, in partnership with the Museum of the Home, London.

This fully-funded studentship is available from October 2024. The award will cover course fees for the duration of DPhil fee liability, and a living cost stipend at the annual UKRI rate (£19,237 in 2024-25)

Closing date: midday, Friday May 3rd  

Project overview

This collaborative doctoral project focuses on growing up queer (broadly defined) in Britain across - or during a substantial part of - the period 1790 and 1914. During this long nineteenth century the country was ‘modernising’, conceptions of childhood and child-rearing were shifting, and understanding of sexual and gender identity were consolidating in new ways. The study will draw queer history directly into conversation with histories of domesticity, family, childhood, class and religion to develop a contextualised understanding of ‘queer’ adults’ reflections on their formative years, including how they saw the influences of those years playing out in their adulthood. It also seeks to discern if, when and how nascently ‘queer’ children were identified as a problem in the home, and looks at how that problem was understood and dealt with.

It is these complex and shifting dynamics, likely enlarged through a series of case studies and evidence from a range of life writing, that will be at the core of this project. It will cast fresh light on queer lives and childhoods and on how formative experiences of home shaped adult attitudes, conceptions of self and indeed homemaking. More broadly it will illuminate familial and domestic lives in new ways and show how they changed in different parts of the country and at and between different historical moments.

The project could take a broad sweep of different material, discourses and testimonies from across the period or focus on particular genres and/or a small number of individuals. In either case the following are likely to be relevant to a greater or lesser degree: material culture and architecture collections at the Museum of the Home and the nearby Museum of Childhood; life writing and correspondence; literature; advice and medical literature on childhood and childhood sexuality; sexological, psychoanalytic and sociological texts and case studies;  and court room press reports and transcripts.  Anchored in such material the successful candidate might focus on research questions such as the following:

  • How did ‘queer’ people describe and conceptualise their homes and family of origin - in general and in specific relation to their adult relationships, sexual behaviour and domestic lives? How did this change across the period?
  • What impact, more broadly, was home and family life understood to have on adult behaviour? How and why did this change?
  • What difference did class, gender, race, religion and locality make to these experiences and understandings?
  • How were race, gender and sexuality enfolded in personal and professional conceptualisations of queer childhood?
  • To what extent did ‘queer’ adults, many of whom married and had children of their own, reflect upon their own parenting?
  • When and how were nascently ‘queer’ children identified as a problem in the home? How was this problem understood and dealt with? 

As with all doctoral projects, the research may develop in unforeseen directions and there is scope for the student to explore their own interests within the broad remit set out above and in discussion with the supervisory and curatorial teams.

The study will result in a standard DPhil thesis and will feed into key areas of programming, collecting and displays at the Museum of the Home. 

Supervision and further details

The successful candidate will be supervised by Professor Matt Cook and Dr Christina de Bellaigue at the University of Oxford and by Aurelien Enjalbert and Louis Platman at the Museum of Home.

At Oxford the student will be based at Mansfield College. They will benefit from the doctoral training programme, research networks (including the Centre for Women’s, Gender and Queer History) and the resources of the Bodleian Library. They will also gain mentored teaching experience and have the opportunity to contribute  to the organisation of the new annual Queer and Trans History Now conference at Mansfield. The student will have desk space at the Museum of Home during the duration of their DPhil, embedding them in the working environment of the museum and allowing them to gain professional insight into curatorial practice, collections care and developing and delivering learning programmes.   

As a collaborative award, the successful candidate will be expected to spend time at both the University and the Museum of the Home. They will be eligible to receive additional travel and related expenses during the course of the project courtesy of the Museum of the Home (worth up to £1,000 per year for 4 years). There are also internal funds at the University of Oxford available specifically to the DPhil community.

The successful candidate will be eligible to participate in events organised for all Collaborative Doctoral Partnership students who are registered with different universities and studying with cultural and heritage organisations across the UK.

How to apply

Applications should be submitted by Friday 3rd May (midday, UK time) to https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/graduate/courses/courses-open-for-studentships.

Note that low income applicants can apply for a waiver of the application fee.

We invite applications from candidates from all backgrounds and ethnicities. Applicants should meet the entry requirements for the DPhil in History at the University of Oxford and will ideally have some experience or a keen interest in the intersections of queer and public history. 

Your application should include:

  • Completed graduate application form including CV information
  • A personal statement (max 600 words) demonstrating your interests and aptitude for exploiting the distinctive opportunity the studentship provides.
  • A research proposal (500-1000 words) outlining your anticipated research focus,  questions and methods within the remit set out above.
  • A sample of academic writing (max 4,000 words) – for example,  an MA / MSt essay or part of a dissertation.
  • Three references (academic preferred).

For an informal discussion about the opportunity and how you might frame your approach to the CDP project, please contact Prof. Matt Cook (matthew.cook@mans.ox.ac.uk) or Aurelian Enjalbert (AEnjalbert@museumofthehome.org.uk) in the first instance. Interviews are provisionally scheduled  in Oxford for Friday 24th May.