Dr Alana Harris
Reader in Modern British Social, Cultural and Gender History
I am a product of a liberal arts education – a combined Arts/Law degree from the University of Melbourne in which I pursued a major in Medieval and Renaissance History with minors in English Literature, European politics and the study of Italian. I carried these experiences of interdisciplinarity, critical thinking and flexible learning into careers in law and the Australian civil service, before moving into academia and undertaking my doctorate in Modern British History at Wadham College, Oxford.
Teaching has always been at the heart of my decision to work in the University sector. I taught modern British and European History for over eight years at the University of Oxford before moving to King’s in 2015. In my work within the Department of History, I received a King’s Award for Inclusive Education (2019), a joint King’s Award for Employee Engagement (2017) and was nominated for a Teaching Excellence Award (2016) and Student Support Award (2019). I gained a Senior Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy in 2018 and I am a Fellow and Officer (2018-21) of the Royal Historical Society. I joined the Department of Liberal Arts as its Director in 2020.
My research interests reflect this interdisciplinary background, a cross-periodisation focus and a commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion. They centre on the shifts in social and cultural identities and subjectivities across the nineteenth- and twentieth-centuries through the lens of gender, class, ethnicity, sexuality and religiosity. I am particularly interested in the manifestations of these self-definitions and personal politics through ritual and performance, pilgrimage, material and visual cultures and spatial and narrative practices. Recent publications have explored understandings of ‘modern love’ and romance, contraception and politicised sexualities through the ‘long 1960s’. Evolving research agendas carry these preoccupations into new territory unearthing alternative and unexpected ideological resources for anti-racism activism and the refashioning of medical ethics. I always seek dynamic ways to engage the public with my research – collaborating with artists (Somerset House), musicians (a collaborative composition released on Naxos) and creative practitioners (exhibitions at the London Science Gallery and Ushaw College).
For more information, please see my full research profile.
Research interests and PhD supervision
- Religious identities, (post) secularisation, religious pluralism and the missionary movement
- Gender, Sexuality and Feminism
- Modern History of London
- Ethnicity, Diasporic Identities and Racism
- Ritual, Material Cultures and Pilgrimage
- Film, Visual Sources and Oral History
Dr Harris teaches modules encompassing the history of Britain in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with a particular focus on the history of London and modern constructions and experiences of gender identities, ethnicity and sexuality.
She is also interested in the interdisciplinary connections between history and other branches of the humanities and social sciences, particularly anthropology, cultural geography, theology and sociology. These theoretical interests encompass the development of varied historiographical approaches to the study of the past and the diversification of source materials used for this study (especially the use of visual sources, film, material culture and life narratives).
Expertise and public engagement
Dr Harris is an Honorary Fellow of the Centre for Catholic Studies (Durham) and the University of Divinity (Melb., Australia) and a Visiting Scholar at the Australian Research Council Centre for Excellence for the History of Emotions (Australian Catholic University). Her research expertise is interdisciplinary and intersectional, encompassing gender studies, theology, and sociology, and she is recognised as one of the foremost scholars of the reception of the Second Vatican Council (1962-5) in Britain and Ireland.
Dr Harris has contributed to newspaper (Guardian, Independent, Tablet, Catholic Herald) and radio programmes (BBC4 Woman’s Hour; Archive on 4), as well as working as a historical consultant (Young Vic theatre, various BBC Productions) on topics relating to women’s emotional lives, modern Catholicism, pilgrimage, queer London and historical approaches to mission, migration and evangelisation. She collaborated with the composer Ion Marmarinos in the creation of his award-winning choral piece 'Sacretum’ (Ablaze Records, 2017) and has curated three research-based, creative exhibitions, on women’s sexual health, the ‘Catholic Sixties’ and early women pioneers in the historical profession. She sits on a number of editorial and advisory boards, served as Honorary Secretary to the Royal Historical Society (2018-2021) and was appointed as a lay Catholic representative on the English Anglican-Roman Catholic Ecumenical Committee (2007-2018).