Professor Krista Cowman

Contact DetailsProfessor Krista Cowman


Personal Details

After studying English and History at the University of Keele I taught in a secondary school in East London while studying for an MA in the History of the European Labour Movement at the Institute of Historical Research, funded by Newham Council.  My D.Phil at the Centre for Women’s Studies, University of York, was funded by the ESRC.  Following this I taught in the Department of History, University of York and for the Open University, then the School of Cultural Studies at Leeds Metropolitan University from 1998.  In 2006 I moved to the University of Lincoln as its first Professor of History.  I joined the School of History, Politics and International Relations at Leicester in the summer of 2021.


A list of selected publications can be accessed here.


My teaching focuses on Modern History from the late nineteenth century to the 1980s, particularly in Britain, with a strong emphasis on women’s history, gender history and histories of women’s political activism.  I have also taught histories of European feminism, historiography and the cultural history of the First World War.


My doctoral research looked at women’s activism across a range of political organisations in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Merseyside, investigating what impact the arrival of a large, militant suffrage campaign had on the women’s sections of political parties in a closely-delineated geographical region.  My next project focussed on the militant suffrage society the Women’s Social and Political Union and at the work done by its paid organizers between 1904 and 1918.  Following that I worked on the social history of the First World War, exploring British perceptions of living behind the lines on the Western Front.

I am currently involved in two research projects:

Women’s quotidian urban activism, Britain c.1920-1990.  This project returns to my earlier interests in women and politics but moves away from parties and large organisations.  Its focus is on how, for many women, everyday concerns such as housing, play space, education and health rather than political philosophy were the catalyst for their public activism.

A (Socially Isolated) Room of One’s Own: Women Writing Lockdown. This interdisciplinary English, Contemporary History and Media Studies project (with Professor Lucie Armitt [University of Lincoln] Professor Sarah Pedersen [Robert Gordon University] and performance poet Liv Torc) seeks to explore the gendered dimensions of the first lockdown, March – August 2020, through studying a range of published and unpublished autobiographical writings from British women produced at the time.

Public Engagement

I have been advisor/script consultant on a number of projects including Clare Balding’s Secrets of a Suffragette (Lion TV 2013); The Suffragette dir. Sarah Gavron (Pathé, 2014) Everything is Possible (Bridget Foreman, York Theatre Royal 2017) and Suffragettes with Lucy Worsley (Brook Lapping for BBC1, 2018).  In 2018 I worked with Vote 100, UK Parliament’s official suffrage centenary co-ordinating group and Prof. Angela Smith of the University of Plymouth on What Difference did the War Make? an exhibition in Portulis House and Westminster Hall with associated series of workshops looking at suffrage campaigns during the First World War and with Historic England on ‘Herstories: Sites of Suffrage’ uncovering the suffrage connections of listed buildings in England.  In 2021 I researched and produced the short film The Whispering House with writer Bridget Foreman and director Damian Cruden, one of a number of projects designed to engage the public with the UK Census.


I welcome PhD students with broad interests in modern British history, particularly women’s and gender history.  Recent PhD topics I have supervised include the history of divorce in Britain 1900- 1940, the Conservative Party in opposition, 1974-1979, militant suffrage and socialism in Bradford and immigration, race and the media in post-war Britain.

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