Emeritus Professor Carolyn Steedman FBA
University of Warwick
Coventry CV4 7AL
I am now Emeritus Professor in the University of Warwick History Department. My most recent book, An Everyday Life of the English Working Class was published in December 2013 (www.cambridge.org/9781107670297 ) so I’m now free to move on to new projects and new ways of doing and writing history. However, my first new project turns out to be very closely linked to Joseph Woolley, the stocking maker with whom I spent so much time when working on An Everyday Life. He mentions three 'lawyer’s letters’ in his diaries. Ordinary local people like him (servants and a framework knitter) paid a local attorney to write a letter to a recalcitrant employer, claiming their wages, or to someone who had offended them. They could afford to do this. Was it because they’d worked out that the formal legal system wasn’t going to be any use to them on this occasion? Or because the local magistrate was away, and another justice was hard to find? I’ve found this kind of letter mentioned in other parts of the country, paid for by working women as well as men. One of the friends and neighbours Woolley mentions paying for this service was a woman. I’d like to tie what I discover to all the new theories of epistolarity—letter-writing and letter-reading—emerging at the moment (and maybe scrutinise the theory a bit). See more at: http://www.cambridgeblog.org/2013/11/carolyn-steedman-interview-everyday-life-of-english-working-class/#sthash.UAULCG6B.dpuf
But that’s a short-ish project. Finally, I can get on to what I’ve been planning for years: to write a book called Poetry for Historians, about the meaning and practice and writing of history in the modern world. But will I be able to write it, now that I’m free to do so? Watch this page!
I continue to supervise my remaining PhD students, Bryan Ayres (the children of ninteenth-century navvy communities in England), Elodie Duché (British prisoners of war at Verdun in the Napoleonic era), and Grace Huxford (the shaping of British soldierly selves in the era of the Korean War). Grace, Elodie and Bryan are the last of the forty or so research students whose work I have supervised over the last thirty years. All of them continue to surprise and delight me in their new enterprises, historical and otherwise.
- BA Sussex
- PhD Cambridge
- The Tidy House (1982)
- Policing the Victorian Community (1984)
- Landscape for a Good Woman (1986)
- The Radical Soldier's Tale: John Pearman, 1819-1908 (1988)
- Margaret McMillan. Childhood, Culture and Class in Britain (1990)
- Strange Dislocations. Childhood and the Idea of Human Interiority, 1780-1930 (1995)
- Dust (2001)
- Master and Servant. Love and Labour in the English Industrial Age (2007)
- Labours Lost. Domestic Service and the Making of Modern England (2009)
- An Everyday Life of the English Working Class. Work, Self, and Sociability in the Early Ninteenth Century (2013)
Publications: Some Recent Articles and Chapters
- 'Intimacy in Research: Accounting for It’, History of the Human Sciences, 21:4 (2008), pp. 17-33.
- 'Literacy, Reading, and Concepts of the Self’, David R. Olson and Nancy Torrance (eds), The Cambridge Handbook of Literacy, Cambridge University Press, 2009, pp. 221-241.
- 'On Not Writing Biography’, New Formations: Reading Life Writing, 67 (2009), pp. 15-24.
- 'Some Way Out of Here’, Journal of Women’s History, 21:4 (2009), pp. 167-173.
- 'After the Archive’, Comparative Critical Studies, 8:2–3 (2011), pp. 321–340.
- 'Sights Unseen, Cries Unheard. Writing the Eighteenth-century Metropolis’, Representations, 118 (2012), pp.28-71.
- 'On a Horse’, PMLA, 27:4 (2012), pp. 809-819.
- `Reading Rancière', in Oliver Davis (ed.), Rancière Now, Polity, 2013.
- 'Nobody’s Place. On Eighteenth-century Kitchens’, Penny Sparke and Anne Massey (eds), Biography, Identity and the Modern Interior, Ashgate, 2013.
- 'Living with the Dead’, The Craft of Knowledge. Experiences of Living with Data, Carol Smart and Jennifer Hockley (eds), Palgrave 2014, pp.162-175.
- `The Poetry of It (Writing History)', to be published ... sometime soon. This piece was written for the volume Academic Writing: Scholars Reflect on Their Craft, edited by Angelika Bammer and Ruth-Ellen Boetcher Joeres. It is still under consideration. Some of the internal references are out of date: it was first drafted in 2010. I'd love some response to it. Poetry of It.
Recent Talks, Papers and Conference Presentations
- `Beginning Archive Fever', July 2014, 20 Years of Archive Fever, The Freud Museum, London (held at the Anna Freud Centre).