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Dr Laura King

Laura King
Now - Arts Engaged Research Fellow - Leeds University
Previous Strategic Award Postdoctoral Fellow (Public Engagement)



Academic Profile
  • PhD (University of Sheffield, 2011) 'Fatherhood and Masculinity in Britain, c.1918-1960'
  • M.A. in Twentieth Century History, with Distinction, University of Sheffield (2008)
  • B.A. in Modern History and Politics, First Class, University of Sheffield (2007)
Selected Publications
  • 'Hidden Fathers? The significance of fatherhood in mid-twentieth-century Britain', Contemporary British History 26:1 (2012), pp.25-46. Article available here.
  • (with Angela Davis and Andrea Hajek) ‘Gender, Subjectivity and Oral History’, Conference Report, History Workshop Journal 73 (2012), pp.361-364. Article available here.
  • ‘Supporting Active Fatherhood in Britain’, History & Policy (June,2012). Available here.
  • 'Hiding in the Pub to Cutting the Cord?', Warwick Knowledge Centre, March 2012. Available here.

My research focuses on the family, parenting and gender, and these interests are brought together in my past and current research projects on fatherhood. At the CHM, I started research into men's presence in childbirth, which I will be continuing at the University of Leeds from October 2012. My public history project at the CHM, entitled 'Hiding in the Pub to Cutting the Cord? Fatherhood and Childbirth in Britain from the 1950s to the present' sought to examine the causes of the shift in men's participation in childbirth from the 1950s, when any involvement in this event was thought 'unmanly', to the present day, where men are frequently considered to be uninterested husbands and fathers - and even 'unmanly' - if they fail to participate actively in pregnancy and birth. This postdoctoral position focused primarily on developing innovative public engagement initiatives centred around this research, such as acting as historical consultant on a theatre piece by the company Babakas, performed at the Warwick Arts Centre on 12th and 13th June; collaborating on a publishing initiative with Nine Arches Press, which resulted in a booklet and exhibition of fathers' poetry; and hosting a conference on parenting for practictioners, policy-makers and researchers on 7th September 2012. I have also appeared at lectures, debates and on local radio, and written articles for various publications - my research, for example, was recently featured in the BBC History magazine. The aim was to create interactive relationships with a variety of non-academic publics to futher develop the research. This reflected my developing interest in public history and public engagement, particularly in terms of histories of the family and gender in modern Britain, and how they interact with public policy and cultural and social norms today.

My thesis examined representations and experiences of fathers, and formed the first detailed academic study of fatherhood between the First World War and the 1950s. It discusses the father's role, emotional relationships between fathers and children, the father's authority and position within the family, and the relationship between fatherhood and masculinity, arguing that fatherhood was invested with a greater significance in this period than has been previously recognised.

Find out about the wide range of public engagement events I was involved in by visiting my project website

Find out more about conference papers and current work on my page

And follow me on twitter: @FathersAtBirth