Seminar Series: IHR Modern British History Postgraduate Reading Group

Grace Redhead's picture

The IHR Modern British History Reading Group is run for and by postgraduate students in London, UK. The Group hosts notable historians of Modern British History, who lead discussions on topics they consider to be of burning historiographical importance. We also hold occasional work-in-progress sessions for postgraduate students. Please find our programme for the Summer Term below and note that all sessions will take place at the Institute of Historical Research, Pollard Seminar Room N301 between 3:30 and 5pm.

11/05/2017 – Class – Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite

This session will consider class as a historical category, particularly the intersection and interrelation of political and ‘vernacular’ discourses of class, how the two interacted in late twentieth century England and what they can say about the impact of Thatcher and New Labour on ideas about ‘class’. Focusing on Dr. Sutcliffe-Braithwaite's work, the session will also explore how individualism and the decline of deference impacted on ideas about ‘class’.


A draft introduction to Dr. Sutcliffe-Braithwaite's upcoming book, which will be circulated the week before the session. If you are planning on attending, please contact Grace Redhead on


25/05/2017 – Social science and British History – Helen McCarthy

The seminar will consider why increasing numbers of scholars are seeking to reassess change and continuity in post-war Britain through the lens of social science, often revisiting the published texts and raw fieldnotes produced by social researchers as a way into thinking about social identities and 'everyday' life. In the seminar we will reflect upon the new insights which this approach might yield, as well as the potential limitations and methodological challenges.


Primary reading – Mike Savage, ‘Elizabeth Bott and the formation of modern British sociology’, The Sociological Review, 56 (2008): 579-605.

Supplementary readings – Helen McCarthy, 'Social Science and Married Women’s Employment in Post-War Britain', Past & Present, 233 (2016): 269-305.

Jane Elliot and Jon Lawrence, 'The Emotional Economy of Unemployment: A Re-Analysis of Testimony From a Sheppey Family, 1978-1983', SAGE Open, 6 (2016), 1-11.

Mike Savage, Social Identities and Social Change in Britain since 1940 (Oxford, 2010).


09/06/2017 – Ethnic populism and the Right – Bill Schwartz

The discussion will focus on the historical reach of what might be called “ethnic populism” in England, looking back to the pre First World War movements of the Radical Right; to the upsurge in Powellite sentiment in 1968-1972; and to the current situation of Ukip and Brexit. I’ll be asking what continuities and discontinuities exist, and how – if at all – we can locate colonial or postcolonial determinations in the current manifestation of a populism of the Right.


Bill Schwartz, The White Man's World (Oxford, 2013). Specifically, the Introduction "The Thing" as well as pp.102-106 on "Nation Against State" and pp.397-9 on "Ethnic Populism".


22/06/2017 – Work in progress session

With conference season coming up, we are inviting postgraduate students to present the papers they are working as to get feedback on their contents and delivery in a friendly environment. If you are interested in presenting, please email  


We will be sending out the readings electronically before each session. If you have any questions, or would like to be on our mailing list and receive these emails, please get in touch with