RHS Officers & Councillors

The RHS Council & Governance

The Royal Historical Society is predominantly a voluntary organisation. Its Council (the Society’s trustees) is made up of RHS Fellows each of whom serves a four-year term working on our various committees and working parties.

Selected members of Council hold Officer posts with responsibility for, among other areas, research and education policy or publishing. Council is led by the RHS President who also serves a four-year term. Every year the Fellowship elects three new members of Council using a preferential voting system. Council members come from a wide variety of backgrounds and research interests.

 

RHS President

Professor Emma Griffin

Emma Griffin is Professor of Modern British History at the University of East Anglia, and researches on the social and economic history of Britain during the period 1700-1870, with a particular interest in gender history, the industrial revolution, and working-class life. Emma’s most recent publications include Liberty’s Dawn. A People’s History of the Industrial Revolution (2013) and Bread Winner. An Intimate History of the Victorian Economy (2020), both published by Yale. She is also co-editor of Historical Journal and a former editor of the academic journal History.

Emma is a frequent contributor to radio and television, having written and presented several Radio 4 documentaries on diverse aspects of her research, from the history of fox-hunting, to the industrial revolution, to the gender pay gap and its history. She was a historical advisor for the Channel 4 drama, The Mill and co-presented The Real Mill with Tony Robinson on More4, and has appeared as an expert contributor on several radio and television programmes, including BBC1’s Who do you Think You Are? and Radio 4’s In Our Time.

Emma became the 35th President of the RHS in November 2020. Read more from Emma on Historical Transactions, the RHS blog.

Officers of the RHS

Professor Peter D’Sena
Vice-President and Chair of Education Policy Committee

Peter D’Sena is Associate Professor of Learning and Teaching at the University of Hertfordshire and a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Historical Research. His key contributions to history education are borne from his enduring commitment, over four decades, to equality and inclusion.

As a writer of the revised National Curriculum in the late 1990s Peter championed the introduction of Black History; now he continues to lecture and write on decolonising the curriculum. As the HEA’s National Lead for History he organised the revision of the QAA Benchmark Statement and created innovative resources for those ‘New to Teaching’. He is a fellow of the Historical Association, a principal fellow of the HEA and last year he was elected to be the first President of SoTL’s European branch for History.

Peter was appointed Vice-President and Chair of Education Policy Committee in 2020 with responsibility for the Society’s contribution to advocacy and training in History teaching.

Professor Jonathan Morris
Vice-President & Chair of the Research Policy Committee

Jonathan Morris is Research Professor in Modern History at the University of Hertfordshire. He is an expert on the global history of coffee, and enjoys an international reputation as a specialist in the transnational history of consumption and modern Italy.

Jonathan’s most recent publication is Coffee: A Global History (Reaktion, 2019). Jonathan leads the Heritage for Business unit within the University of Hertfordshire’s Heritage Hub and was a finalist in Most Innovative Contribution to Business-Collaboration category in the 2018 Times Higher Education Awards for his work with Nestlé Nespresso. Jonathan is a member of the REF2021 History Sub-Panel.

As Vice-President & Chair of the Research Policy Committee, Jonathan oversees the Society’s work in speaking for historians on issues related to research and funding.

Professor Olivette Otele
Vice-President

Olivette Otele is Professor of the History of Slavery at the University of Bristol. She is a specialist in European colonial and post-colonial history, particularly the link between history, collective memory and geopolitics in relation to British and French colonial pasts.

Olivette has written widely for academic and broader audiences. Her most recent book, African Europeans: An Untold History, examines the long history of Europeans of African descent. She serves on the board of the British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, as a committee member for the Society for the Study of French History, and for the V&A Museum’s research committee. As RHS Vice-President, Olivette focuses particularly on matters pertaining to Membership, including the Society’s work on equality and diversity in the historical profession, and new developments in our support of early career historians.

Professor Jane Winters
Vice-President and Chair of the Publications Committee

Jane Winters is Professor of Digital History at the School of Advanced Study, University of London.

Jane has led or co-directed a range of digital humanities projects, including — most recently — Big UK Domain Data for the Arts and Humanities; Digging into Linked Parliamentary Metadata; Traces through Time: Prosopography in Practice across Big Data; The Thesaurus of British and Irish History as SKOS; and Born Digital Big Data and Approaches for History and the Humanities. A former RHS Council member, Jane became Vice-President, Publications in 2020 with responsibility for RHS print and online publishing.

Dr Alana Harris
Honorary Secretary

Alana Harris is Senior Lecturer in Modern British History and Director of Liberal Arts at King’s College London. Her work sits at the intersections of the history of gender, sexuality, ethnicity and religiosity. Alana’s publications include The Schism of ’68: Catholics, Contraception and Humanae Vitae in Europe, 1945-75 (Palgrave Macmillan 2018), Love and Romance in Britain 1918-1970 (Palgrave Macmillan 2014) (co-edited with Tim Jones)and Faith in the Family: A Lived Religious History of English Catholicism, 1945-82 (MUP 2013).

Alana has a strong interest in gender and racial equality and chaired her Department’s successful Athena SWAN Bronze award. She is a member of a number of editorial and advisory boards and enjoys taking her research beyond the academy through various exhibitions, public engagement workshops, and media and theatre consultancies.

Dr Andrew Smith
Co-Honorary Director of Communications

Andrew W.M. Smith is a Senior Lecturer in Contemporary History and Politics at the University of Chichester. His work focuses principally on the French and Francophone world with an interest in identities beyond the frame of the nation state. Recent articles have addressed minority nationalism, decolonization, the Second World War, and linguistic politics.

Andrew is the author of Terror and Terroir: The Winegrowers of the Languedoc and Modern France (Manchester University Press, September 2016), and editor (with Chris Jeppesen) of Britain, France and the Decolonization of Africa: Future Imperfect? (UCL Press, March 2017). As the Society’s Hon. Director of Communications, Andrew oversees RHS Newsletters and the Society’s blog, Historical Transactions.

Professor Andrew Spicer
Literary Director

Andrew Spicer is Professor of Early Modern European History at Oxford Brookes University. He completed his doctorate at the University of Southampton on exiles from France and the Southern Netherlands in the late sixteenth century. As one of two Literary Directors, Andrew oversees RHS publications and is the editor of the Society’s journal, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society.

Andrew has published widely on early modern immigrant communities, as well as nineteenth-century interest in the Huguenots. His more recent work has focused on the socio-cultural impact of the Reformation, particularly sacred space, art & architecture, and the material culture & setting of worship. He is an editor of the Ecclesiastical History Society’s Studies in Church History series. Besides Calvinist Churches in Early Modern Europe (Manchester, 2007), he has published a number of edited volumes, most recently Parish Churches in the Early Modern World (Farnham, 2016). He is currently completing a monograph entitled Conflict and the Religious Landscape: Cambrai and the Southern Netherlands, c. 1566–1621 to be published by Brill. 

Professor Jon Stobart
Honorary Treasurer

Jon Stobart is Professor of History at Manchester Metropolitan University, having previously held academic positions at the universities of Northampton, Coventry and Staffordshire. He is a social and economic historian of eighteenth-century England, with particular interests in the histories of retailing and consumption.

Much of Jon’s work is collaborative, interdisciplinary, and international and he has worked with geographers, art historians, heritage professionals and historians from the UK and across Europe. His most recent book, Consumption and the Country House, was published by OUP in 2016. Jon is a founding editor of the journal History of Retailing and Consumption, a member of the AHRC Peer Review College, and has sat on a number of academic councils and committees including the Economic History Society, Social History Society and Northamptonshire Record Society.

Professor Richard Toye
Literary Director

Richard Toye is Professor of History at the University of Exeter. He is an historian of Britain in its global and imperial context in the period from the late nineteenth century to the present. As one of two Literary Directors, Andrew oversees RHS publications and is the editor of the Society’s journal, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society.

Richard is the author of a number of books on Winston Churchill, including Churchill’s Empire: The World That Made Him and the World He Made (Macmillan, 2010), The Roar of the Lion: The Untold Story of Churchill’s World War II Speeches (OUP, 2013), Winston Churchill. A Life in the News and The Churchill Myths (both 2020). He has also written books on persuasion in modern British politics, the history of the British Labour Party, and the Oxford Very Short Introduction to Rhetoric.

RHS Council members

Dr Oleg Benesch

Oleg Benesch is a Reader in East Asian History at the University of York, specialising in the transnational history of early modern and modern Japan and China.

Oleg’s recent publications include the monographs Inventing the Way of the Samurai: Nationalism, Internationalism, and Bushido in Modern Japan (Oxford, 2014) and, together with Ran Zwigenberg, Japan’s Castles: Citadels of Modernity in War and Peace (Cambridge, 2019). For more information on Oleg’s research, please see www.olegbenesch.com.

Professor Barbara Bombi

Barbara Bombi is Professor of Medieval History at the University of Kent. Her research interests cover ecclesiastical and religious history in the High Middle Ages (1200-1450). She specialises in the medieval papacy and canon law, the Crusades of the early 13th century, and the history of the Military Orders. Her most recent monograph is Anglo-Papal Relations in the Early Fourteenth Century: A Study in Medieval Diplomacy (2019).

Dr Adam Budd

Adam Budd is Lecturer in Cultural History at the University of Edinburgh. His research focuses on authorship and literary culture during eighteenth century, and on the development of history as an academic discipline. Adam sits on our Race, Ethnicity and Equality working group, and is active with the Higher Education Academy and Edinburgh’s Widening Participation initiatives. His latest book is Circulating Enlightenment: The Career and Correspondence of Andrew Millar, 1725-68 (Oxford University Press, 2020).

Dr Melissa Calaresu

Melissa Calaresu is the Neil McKendrick Lecturer in History at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. She has written on the cultural history of the Grand Tour, urban space, ice cream, and street-vending in early modern Italy, with a particular focus on Naples. She has extensive experience of teaching and research, expertise in a wide range of neighbouring disciplines  She is currently writing a cultural history of the city of Naples through the household accounts of the Welsh artist Thomas Jones (1742-1803).

Professor Clare Griffiths

Clare Griffiths is Chair of Modern History at Cardiff University and director of Postgraduate Research in the School of History, Archaeology and Religion.

Clare’s research interests include twentieth-century British political and cultural history, and main areas of expertise: history of the British Left; the Labour party, organisation and policy; political culture c.1918-1950; rural and agricultural history; land use and land policy; cultural history of the home front during the Second World War; inter-war literature and publishing; commemoration and politicised histories; Englishness and depictions of place; landscape and visual art.

Clare is a member of AHRC Peer Review College, and EC member of the Agricultural History Society and the British Agricultural History Society.

Dr Rebekah Lee

Rebekah Lee is a Senior Lecturer at the History Department, Goldsmiths, University of London. Her research interests concern the social and cultural history of modern South Africa, and the history of health and medicine in sub-Saharan Africa, and curricular and pedagogical issues at all levels of history education. Rebekah’s most recent publication is Health, Healing and Illness in African History published by Bloomsbury in 2021. She is an editor of the interdisciplinary Journal of Southern African Studies.

Rebekah joined the Council in 2020. You can read more from her on the RHS blog, Historical Transactions.

Professor Simon MacLean

Simon MacLean is a historian of Western Europe in the earlier Middle Ages, in particular the Carolingian Empire and its successor kingdoms, 8th-12th centuries, and medieval queenship. His research has been published in numerous forums since 1998, and his most recent book is Ottonian Queenship (Oxford, 2017). Simon has been involved in administration of teaching and postgraduate matters at the University of St Andrews for over a decade, and since 2018 has been Head of School. He has broad experience of the issues affecting the teaching and learning of history in modern academia.

Simon joined the Council in 2020. You can read more from him on the RHS blog, Historical Transactions.

Professor Chris Marsh

Chris Marsh is Professor of Early Modern History at Queen’s University, Belfast. His research focuses on the social and cultural history of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England, from popular religion to popular music. He is currently preparing a website that will feature digital images and new recordings by The Carnival Band (and invited guests) of a ‘top 100’ broadside ballads from seventeenth-century England. In 2017 he delivered an RHS lecture on gender in best-selling early modern ballads, which you can view in our video archive.

Professor Helen Nicholson

Helen Nicholson is Professor of Medieval History at Cardiff University/Prifysgol Caerdydd. A former Head of the History Department, her research focuses on the military religious orders and the Crusades, including a wide range of publications on the history of the Templars.

Professor Thomas Otte

Thomas Otte is Professor of Diplomatic History in the School of History, University of East Anglia. He is the author or editor of some eighteen books, among  them July Crisis: How the World Descended into War, Summer 1914 (CUP, 2014), and Statesman of Europe: A Life of Sir Edward Grey (Allen Lane, 2020).

Professor Paul Readman

Paul Readman is Professor of Modern British History at King’s College London. His research interests include modern British political and cultural history. His publications include Land and Nation in England: Patriotism, National Identity and the Politics of Land, 1880-1914 (2008), The Land Question in Britain, 1750-1950 (2009), Borderlands in World History, 1700–1914 (2014), and Walking Histories, 1800–1914 (2016).

Paul is Director of the major AHRC-funded project ‘The Redress of the Past: Historical Pageants in Britain, 1905-2016’. His latest publications include Storied Ground. Landscape and the Shaping of English National Identity (2018) and the edited collection Restaging the Past. Historical Pageants, Culture and Society in Modern Britain (2020). Paul also co-convenes the Institute of Historical Research (IHR) seminar ‘Britain, 1815-1945’.

Dr Emily Robinson

Emily Robinson is a Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of Sussex and a historian of modern Britain, specialising in political ideas, identities, emotions and traditions. Recent publications include The Language of Progressive Politics in Modern Britain (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017) and articles in the Historical Journal, Twentieth Century British History, Rethinking History and Journal of the History of Ideas. She is currently co-authoring An Emotional History of Brexit Britain with Jonathan Moss and Jake Watts.

Emily joined the Council in 2020. You can read more from her on the RHS blog, Historical Transactions.