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The John Rylands Research Institute

Speaker biographies

Aaron Ackerley

Aaron Ackerley is currently in the final year of a Wolfson Foundation funded History PhD at the University of Sheffield. At the University of Liverpool he was awarded the Gibson Sinclair University Undergraduate Scholarship and the Mark Almeras Thomson Prize, and was the recipient of an AHRC Block Grant Masters Studentship. His thesis examines how the interwar British daily press handled economic ideas, charting how economic narratives were constructed in the newsroom, presented in print, and consumed by readers. It draws on in-depth research into the working practices and sources of knowledge of journalists, utilising the surviving internal archives of the newsrooms as well as autobiographies and memoirs.

Charlotte Alston

Charlotte Alston is Reader in History at Northumbria University. Her research focuses on Russia’s relations (both cultural and diplomatic) with the West, the history of the Russian revolution and the Russian civil war, and the post-first world war peace settlements. She has published on Russia’s border states at the Paris Peace Conference, Russian émigré organisations in the west, and the international influence of Tolstoy’s Christian Anarchist thought.

Daphna Baram

Daphna Baram is a journalist, editor, lecturer in journalism studies and stand up comedian. Her book, Disenchantment: The Guardian and Israel (Guardian Books 2004), written during a Reuters Foundation fellowship in Oxford and an affiliation as Senior Associate Member at St Antony’s College, Oxford, was a result of research done, among others, at the John Rylands library and the Guardian archives in London.

Steve Collins

Dr Steve Collins is a former Chairman of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society, and is now the editor of their Transactions. His biography of James Crossley was published by the Chetham Society in 2012. He has particular interest in nineteenth-century literary history, and the wider cultural development of the North West region.

Tom Collins

Tom Collins is a senior lecturer in Communications, Media and Culture at the University of Stirling. Originally from Northern Ireland, he is a former editor of the daily The Irish News and the weekly Carrickfergus Advertiser and East Antrim Gazette. Under his editorship, The Irish News received a number of accolades including the International Federation of Journalists’ Prize for Tolerance and Understanding, awarded jointly with the Ulster News Letter for their work for peace in Northern Ireland. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce. In 2007 his work as chairman of the Ulster Orchestra, Northern Ireland’s professional symphony orchestra, was recognised with an OBE for services to music. He has also worked in corporate communications as a marketing director at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, and Queen’s University Belfast.

Rebecca Gill

Rebecca Gill is a senior lecturer in History at the University of Huddersfield, focusing on international activism and humanitarian relief and currently researching Emily Hobhouse and her activism during the South African War (1899-1902) and the Great War (1914-1918). This involves working with her papers (newly deposited at the Bodleian) and making the connections between her activism in these conflicts and that of her various friends and allies. She had a long-running correspondence with C. P. Scott and often published in the Manchester Guardian where her brother was often employed to write the leaders. Rebecca is working with Helen Dampier, Kate Law, Cornelis Muller and Jenny Lake to piece together this correspondence in various archives in the UK, Germany, Switzerland and South Africa on the AHRC funded Emily Hobhouse Letters Project.

Luke Heselwood

Luke Heselwood has recently passed his PhD at the University of Manchester. His thesis is entitled ‘The Impact of Anglo-Chinese relations and the Development of British Liberalism, 1842-1857’. His work intends to shed light on the importance of Britain’s interactions with China on shaping liberal attitudes in the mid-nineteenth century regarding international law, free trade and diplomacy.

During his PhD, Luke has been involved in numerous research projects and is currently editorial assistant for two academic websites run by members of Manchester’s History department: Disaster History and University Histories

In addition, Luke collaborated on a Seedcorn funded project on behalf of the John Rylands Research Institute with Dr Henry Miller. This project examined political petitioning in the nineteenth century, focusing on Manchester’s anti-slavery and women’s suffrage movements.

Andrew Hobbs

Andrew Hobbs is a senior lecturer in the School of Journalism, Media and Performance at the University of Central Lancashire. He is fascinated by provincial print culture and its sense of place, in particular Victorian local newspapers and twentieth-century county magazines. Recent publications include ‘How local newspapers came to dominate Victorian poetry publishing’ (Victorian Poetry, 2014, with Clare Janusczewski) and ‘The Deleterious Dominance of The Times in Nineteenth-Century Scholarship’ (Journal of Victorian Culture, 2013). He is an associate editor of the Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century Journalism and a former journalist.

Guy Hodgson

Dr Guy Hodgson was a journalist for more than 30 years, 20 of which he was employed as a staff journalist for The Independent, the Independent on Sunday and the BBCBefore that he worked in regional and local newspapers.

He has been a senior lecturer for 17 years, having worked for the Universities of Central Lancashire and Chester before he moved to Liverpool John Moores in 2015. At Chester he was Head of the Department of Media.

His publications include War Torn: Manchester, its Newspapers and the Luftwaffe’s Christmas Blitz of 1940, a book that incorporated his broader research interests: newspaper history, propaganda, press censorship and manufactured consent.

Jo Laycock

Jo Laycock is currently Senior Lecturer in Modern History at Sheffield Hallam University. Her research concerns the aftermaths of crisis and conflict in Armenia and the South Caucasus. Her first monograph, Imagining Armenia, Orientalism, Ambiguity and Intervention, was published by Manchester University Press in 2009. This book examined the ways in which cultural representations of Armenia shaped the response to the Armenian Genocide. Her second project examined repatriation in the aftermath of the Second World War, focusing on the 'return' of diaspora Armenians to the Soviet Armenian Republic. She has published articles on this subject in Cultural and Social History and History and Memory. More recently she published a review essay on the historiography of the Armenian Genocide for Revolutionary Russia. She is currently writing a book which considers the place of the Soviet Union in histories of humanitarianism by examining local and international responses to displacement in the aftermath of war and genocide in the early Soviet South Caucasus.

Richard Nelsson

Richard Nelsson is Guardian/Observer librarian, former Chair of the Association of UK Media Librarians and is the editor of various books including Those Who Dared: The Guardian book of Adventure.

Stéphanie Prévost

Stéphanie Prévost was appointed lecturer in 19th-century British history at Paris-Diderot University in September 2011 after defending her PhD at Tours University in 2010 on Britain and the Eastern Question, 1875-1898. Anglo-Ottoman relations in the late 19th/early 20th-century, especially the Armenian Question, range amongst her current research interests, together with British women’s responses to Ottoman women’s conditions, and the role and status of British subjects in the Ottoman Empire. She continues exploring how the Eastern Question could be a much hoped-for federating cause for the Liberal Party, including after Gladstone's death in 1898, and does so in part through portraits of Liberal journalists. Her most recent publications on these issues include: ‘W.T. Stead and the Eastern Question; Or How to Rouse England and Why?’, 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century, Birkbeck, no. 16 (2013); ‘New perspectives on the Eastern Question/ Eastern Questions in Late-Victorian Britain, Or How ‘the Eastern Question’ Affected British Politics after 1881’ in: Catherine Delmas & Isabelle Gadoin (eds.), Représentations, « Appellations, définitions », June 2015 -; « L’opinion publique britannique et la question arménienne (1889-1896): Quelles archives pour quel récit ? » in Etudes arméniennes contemporaines, 2016 Winter issue (forthcoming in January 2017).

Christopher Shoop-Worrall

Christopher Shoop-Worrall is a PhD Researcher in the Department of Journalism Studies at the University of Sheffield, a member of the Centre for the Study of Journalism and History, and a Postgraduate Member of the Royal Historical Society. He previously studied for his BA (First Class) in History at the University of Liverpool, before attaining his MA in Historical Research from the University of Sheffield in 2015. His doctoral research explores the political content of – and political reactions to – the early popular press in Britain. He has presented his research at various conferences, including a paper at the 2017 ECREA Journalism Conference in Odense, Denmark. He is also a reviewer for both H-Net and The English Historical Review; has been commissioned to write a piece on football and the early British left for The Blizzard, and is currently the editorial assistant on the upcoming Edinburgh History of the British and Irish Press, Volume III (eds. Martin Conboy and Adrian Bingham) due to be published by Edinburgh University Press in 2018.

Graham Snowdon

Graham Snowdon has been the Guardian Weekly's deputy editor since 2012. Prior to that he edited the Saturday Guardian's Work section, during which time he won national recognition for his writing. Before that, in 2007, he was part of the team that helped redesign the Guardian newspaper from a broadsheet into its present-day Berliner format. In a journalistic career spanning 20 years, Graham has also worked as a sports journalist for the Guardian and for The Independent, where he was an assistant sports editor and covered football matches. 

Colin Storer

Colin Storer is Senior Teaching Fellow in Modern European History at the University of Warwick. His research interests are in Anglo-German relations, the history of Germany’s Weimar Republic and British and European cultural history (with particular focus on identity, genre fiction and media history). He is the author of Britain and the Weimar Republic (2010) and A Short History of the Weimar Republic (2013), both published by I.B. Tauris. He is currently working on a book exploring the changing nature of the Anglo-German relationship in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Jonathan Westaway

Jonathan Westaway is a research fellow in history at the University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK.  His research examines the history of mountaineering, exploration and the outdoor movement and forms part of his wider research interests examining the intersections of liberalism, modernity, masculinity, physical culture and imperialism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.  Published works include articles on the incorporation of European physical-cultural models into sport, leisure and recreation in Britain (English Historical Review), on memorialization and the reconstruction of masculinity via landscape encounters after the First World War (Landscapes, Sport in History) and on Central-Asian travel writing and imperial intelligence networks (Studies in Travel Writing).  He is currently writing a book on manhunting games and imperialism.