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The University of Southampton
HistoryPart of Humanities

What We Research

Researchers at Southampton study how people, institutions and communities have behaved, and how societies have changed, across a wide range of historical periods from ancient to modern and in a variety of geographical settings spanning most of the globe. Though the horizons of our expertise are broad, we also have shared interests in a number of historical themes.

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Our expertise in the Ancient world encompasses the cultures of Greece and Rome and includes a special focus on Jewish life and thought. We also examine the long after-lives of these cultures, through the medieval era into the present-day. This work draws together colleagues from other Humanities disciplines and enriches our undergraduate teaching, too. 

Formerly a thriving medieval port, Southampton has long been a major hub for the study of the Middle Ages. Our research explores religion, law, warfare and everyday life in the medieval period. The School of Humanities’ Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Culture hosts the annual Reuter lecture.

Reformation, court culture, civil war, and sexual violence: our research interests in Early-modern British history extend from the 15th to 18th centuries and engage with other disciplines through the work of Chawton House Library and the Southampton Centre for Eighteenth-Century Studies

Our expertise in modern European history spans from west to east, including Russia. We have strong interests in the history and memorialisation of the Holocaust, the collapse of empires in central and Eastern Europe, and Jewish history and culture.

Southampton is home to world-renowned archives in modern British history. Our own research in the field traverses the world of high politics, the practices and legacies of slavery and slave ownership, women’s history and the history of communications. We participate actively in the cross-disciplinary Southampton Centre for Nineteenth-Century Research.

Many colleagues study the imprint of empires, and their expertise – in British, Atlantic and south Asian history – underpins the Centre for Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies. The imperial theme is powerfully present, too, in the work of our ancient historians and our Americanists. 

Our specialists in modern American history are experts in the critical, often interlinked, roles played by race, religion and technology in the American past and the expansion of US influence abroad. One colleague speaks Christopher Fuller's podcast about his research on drone technology and the War on Terror, later published as a monograph.

Our expertise in global twentieth century history is growing and extends beyond the study of empires and international relations to specialist work on the histories of IndiaIran and China, where colleagues incorporate perspectives from the histories of medicine and ideas.

These global connections find expression in our commitment to Maritime history, too. Our research into medieval and early modern trade links, the circulation of knowledge and objects in the British empire, and trans-Atlantic slavery, is supported by the university’s multi-disciplinary Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute and has led to a number of research successes, including conferences, publications, and the co-supervision of exciting doctoral research alongside colleagues in Engineering and Ship Science.

Whether focusing on Southampton as the point of arrival and departure for many travellers, or ranging more widely, several colleagues explore the significance of the movement and migration of individuals and groups of people. Research on this theme includes travel and mobility in the ancient worldhow the East India Company facilitated connections across the Indian Ocean, and the history of German Jews in Palestine/Israel.

Another long-standing area of expertise and strength is gender and sexuality, which encompasses a diverse range of topics, including love and marriage in late medieval Europefemale philanthropy in 20th-century Britain and the overlapping cultures of fascism and homosexuality in inter-war Czechoslovakia. Since 2012 we have hosted the annual university Stonewall lecture on LGBTQ history.

We also engage in wide-ranging research on the impact and significance of religion and faith around the world and across time, ranging from Apocalyptic writing to American evangelicalism, with very important work focused on the Parkes Institute with its public programme of events aimed at a wide range of audiences.

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