Skip to main content
harrisa

Dr Alana Harris

Reader in Modern British Social, Cultural and Gender History

Biography

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

Teaching

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).

    Research

    academic books
    King's Contemporary British History

    The study of Contemporary British History goes back to the 1960s, and was consolidated with the establishment of the Institute of Contemporary British History in 1985 by (Sir) Anthony Seldon and (Lord) Peter Hennessy. The Institute moved to King’s College London in 2010, and the new King’s Contemporary British History builds on this by creating a larger and more diverse enterprise, building on that distinguished tradition.

    42564057_presentation-wide
    The Centre for the Humanities and Health

    A multidisciplinary forum interfacing the humanities, health, science & society.

    News

    Deep dive into the 2023 King's Artists Programme

    As this year's King’s Artists programme concludes, discover more about this year's 6-month research and development collaborations, supported by King's Culture

    King's Artists Final Composite

    Six new collaborations launched as part of King's Artists programme

    Artists-in-residence will collaborate with academics to explore imaginative approaches to research.

    composite image 6 tiles representing king's artists projects, from top left to bottom right a wooden box, a pro-choice protest, illustration of soundwaves, anatomy drawing, cyanotype portrait and an artwork with green plants

    Dr Alana Harris publishes new book 'Sink or Swim: Catholicism in Sixties Britain through John Ryan's Cartoons'

    Dr Alana Harris, Director of Liberal Arts and Senior Lecturer in Modern British History, has published a new book on the works of cartoonist John Ryan,...

    Pugwash main

    New Exhibition of John Ryan's Cartoons launches at King's College London

    Dr Alana Harris and Isabel Ryan, in conjunction with Library Services at King’s College London, are pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibition...

    Dr Alana Harris and Isabel Ryan

    Faculty of Arts & Humanities staff celebrated in the King's Education Awards

    Finalists revealed for the 2019 King’s Education Awards.

    King's Education Awards logo

      Research

      academic books
      King's Contemporary British History

      The study of Contemporary British History goes back to the 1960s, and was consolidated with the establishment of the Institute of Contemporary British History in 1985 by (Sir) Anthony Seldon and (Lord) Peter Hennessy. The Institute moved to King’s College London in 2010, and the new King’s Contemporary British History builds on this by creating a larger and more diverse enterprise, building on that distinguished tradition.

      42564057_presentation-wide
      The Centre for the Humanities and Health

      A multidisciplinary forum interfacing the humanities, health, science & society.

      News

      Deep dive into the 2023 King's Artists Programme

      As this year's King’s Artists programme concludes, discover more about this year's 6-month research and development collaborations, supported by King's Culture

      King's Artists Final Composite

      Six new collaborations launched as part of King's Artists programme

      Artists-in-residence will collaborate with academics to explore imaginative approaches to research.

      composite image 6 tiles representing king's artists projects, from top left to bottom right a wooden box, a pro-choice protest, illustration of soundwaves, anatomy drawing, cyanotype portrait and an artwork with green plants

      Dr Alana Harris publishes new book 'Sink or Swim: Catholicism in Sixties Britain through John Ryan's Cartoons'

      Dr Alana Harris, Director of Liberal Arts and Senior Lecturer in Modern British History, has published a new book on the works of cartoonist John Ryan,...

      Pugwash main

      New Exhibition of John Ryan's Cartoons launches at King's College London

      Dr Alana Harris and Isabel Ryan, in conjunction with Library Services at King’s College London, are pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibition...

      Dr Alana Harris and Isabel Ryan

      Faculty of Arts & Humanities staff celebrated in the King's Education Awards

      Finalists revealed for the 2019 King’s Education Awards.

      King's Education Awards logo