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Biography

Paul Readman is Professor of Modern British History at King's College London. In 2018, he was elected to the Council of the Royal Historical Society. Readman is author of Land and Nation: Patriotism, National Identity and the Politics of Land (2008). His other publications include, as co-editor, The Land Question in Britain, 1759-1950 (2010), Borderlands in World History, 1700–1914 (2014) and Walking Histories, 1800–1914 (2016), as well as many articles and essays. Readman is Director of the major Arts & Humanities Research Council-funded project, ‘The Redress of the Past: Historical Pageants in Britain, 1905-2016’. This project has published articles and essays on pageants, and a multi-million-word database with details of over 650 pageants (http://www.historicalpageants.ac.uk/pageants/); it has also been responsible for a number of successful exhibitions on pageantry, in Carlisle, Bury St Edmunds and Scarborough: http://www.historicalpageants.ac.uk/events/

As a keen walker and perpetual tourist, Readman has a long-standing interest in the diverse ways that human experience shapes, and is shaped by, landscape and place. His new book, Storied Ground: Landscape and the Shaping of English National Identity, is published by Cambridge University Press. 

Research interests and PhD supervision

  • The cultural and political history of modern Britain
  • British national identities
  • The British landscape in history
  • Historical pageants in twentieth-century Britain
  • The politics of patriotism in modern Britain

Paul’s research interests lie in modern British political and cultural history. He has published articles and essays on a wide range of subjects, including electoral politics, the British ‘land question’, landscape preservation, the politics of patriotism, foreign policy, historiography and historical methods, mountaineering, historical pageants, and the place of the past in late Victorian and Edwardian culture. He is author of Land and Nation in England (2008), which examines political debates about Englishness, agriculture and land reform. More recently, he has published a major study of English National identity and its relationship to landscape, Storied Ground (2018). He has also published, as co-editor, The Land Question in Britain, 1750-1950 (2009), By-elections in British Politics 1832-1914 (2013), Borderlands in World History, 1700-1914 (2014), and Walking Histories, 1800-1914 (2016).

Paul would particularly welcome applications from research students interested in working on topics relating to:

  • Nineteenth- and twentieth-century British national identities
  • The place of the past in nineteenth and twentieth-century British culture
  • The ‘Land Question’ in British politics, c. 1750-1950
  • Landscape and the rural in British culture since c.1750
  • Electoral politics c. 1860-1945

Teaching

Much of Paul’s teaching reflects his research interests. He teaches modules in modern British history, nations and nationalism, electoral politics, and the politics of patriotism.

Expertise and public engagement

Paul’s work on historical pageants has involved public exhibitions, film screenings, talks and workshops with a wide range of external partners (e.g. Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, Carlisle). For further details of this work, please see the Redress of the Past project website: http://www.historicalpageants.ac.uk/.

Paul has appeared on BBC Radio 4, BBC local radio and, in the US, National Public Radio. He has reviewed books for a variety of publications, including the Irish Times and the BBC History Magazine.