Dr Laura Harrison

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  • Qualifications:MA (Hons); MA; PhD; FRHistS; SFHEA
  • Position:Associate Professor in Modern History
  • Department:School of Arts College of Arts, Technology and Environment
  • Telephone:+4411732 84521
  • Email:Laura2.Harrison@uwe.ac.uk

About me

I am a social and cultural historian of modern Britain, with a particular interest in the histories of young people and youth culture, as well as family history, public & community history, and oral history. 

I began teaching at UWE in 2016 following my Fulbright scholarship year at Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri, as the Fulbright-Robertson Visiting Professor in British History. 

At UWE, I was programme leader for History from 2019-2021, and Associate Head of School (Creative Writing, History and Linguistics) from 2021-2023. I am currently the Associate Director of the Regional History Centre.

I was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in 2022. 


My research has primarily focused on histories of youth and youth culture in Britain, exploring the intersections of age, gender, class and race, and has been published in a number of leading journals. 

I have previously published on urban poverty and the attempts made by reformers to understand and 'map' the slums of the Victorian and Edwardian city, and institutional attempts to informally police young women's behaviour in public. My latest article for Rural History looks at memories of growing up in the countryside in the early twentieth century, as recalled in memoirs and oral history interviews.

Dangerous Amusements: Leisure, the young working class, and urban space in Britain, c.1870-1939 

My first book traces the beginnings of a distinct youth culture in streets and neighbourhoods across Britain, and was published by Manchester University Press in June 2022. In neighbourhoods and public spaces across Britain, young working people walked out together, congregated in the streets, and paraded up and down on the 'monkey parades'. Drawing on an extensive range of sources, from newspapers and institutional records to oral histories and autobiography, this book explores the relationship between the leisure lives of the young working class and urban space, offering new perspectives on a number of familiar and important themes in British social history, such as leisure and consumption, street cultures, courtship and sexuality.

Doing Working Class History: Research, Heritage and Engagement

I am one of the editors of Doing Working Class Historycurrently in production with Routledge. This edited collection addresses the core question: what are the possibilities of working-class history in the university classroom, the heritage world, and beyond?  

Telling our stories: family history and historical narratives

Drawing and reflecting on my own experience of family history research, my current project brings together academic historians, Bristol and other locally based family historians – both experienced genealogists and those new to family history research – writers, and other creative practitioners to explore and exchange ideas on the intersections of family history, community history and creative approaches to history and storytelling.

Area of expertise

  • Nineteenth and twentieth century British social and cultural history
  • Histories of young people and youth culture
  • Oral history, family history and community histories
  • History of women, sexuality and gender relations
  • Urban history and social geography
  • Working-class history in Britain

Research supervision: I welcome enquiries from students interested in these areas. Please don't hesitate to get in touch if you would like to discuss your research ideas. 

Lin Lovell: 'Women’s suffrage societies and the gendering of power: the NUWSS & WSPU as pioneers of women-led organisations' (Completed 2021)

Collaborative practice

I am the Associate Director of the Regional History Centre, and as a collaborative public historian, I have worked in partnership with a range of community groups, heritage organisations, and other external partners, including the NLHF-funded projects 'This is Your Bristol Life' with BCfm, and 'The Story of Yeovil' with Yeovil Arts Space.

Teaching and pedagogy

I teach across all three years of the History undergraduate degree, and as the first person in my family to go to university, I am particularly passionate about breaking down barriers to learning, and opening up access and opportunities across communities. 

Collaboration is central to my teaching and research practice, particularly in supporting students to work with partners and communities in exploring their own histories in ways relevant to their lives.

My research and collaborative practice informs all my teaching, including the specialist modules I lead on histories of youth & youth culture, and of gender & sexuality. I also have an interest in creative practice and its application in the History HE classroom.

I have been a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy since 2018, and in 2022 was awarded Senior Fellowship status.

Recent media appearances

You can hear me speaking to Jane Garvey on BBC Radio 4's 'Woman's Hour' about the history of the school summer holiday here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0007k5n

I spoke to Doctor Who and Broadchurch actor Jodie Whittaker about her family history as part of the BBC series Who Do You Think You Are? You can see further details about the episode here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000nh4f


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