I’m committed to impact and public engagement as an integral part of my academic practice – here’s an overview of the work I’ve done.
Gendering the Museum: A Toolkit | Hidden Stories at the Royal Armouries | Sex Education Zine Cafe | Gendering Interpretations | York LGBT History Month | Freelance heritage work | Media
Gendering the Museum: A Toolkit
With James Daybell (University of Plymouth), I am the co-author of Gendering the Museum: A Toolkit. This practical booklet, aimed at museum and heritage staff, provides a guide to diversifying representation of gender in museums through research, interpretation and public programming. Developed in collaboration with the V&A and Vasa Museum as part of the Gendering Interpretations project, the toolkit forms a key part of Hidden Stories at the Royal Armouries, and we have also used it to increase knowledge of the collections and change visitor experiences at National Trust Saltram.
You can download a copy of the toolkit for free here.
Hidden Stories at the Royal Armouries
I am currently Community Project Lead on the National Lottery Heritage Funded project ‘Hidden Stories’, at Royal Armouries Leeds. Following a successful pilot project working to engage trans communities with the museum through a sword commissioned by the Chevaliere d’Eon, we are now using Gendering the Museum: A Toolkit (see above) as part of the Armouries’ first ever community-curated exhibition. Community researchers will use the toolkit to research hidden gendered aspects of objects at the museum, before a team of volunteers from the local LGBTQ+ community will receive bespoke training in interpretation and exhibition design, enabling them to use the research to create a temporary exhibition and events programme – empowering and upskilling LGBTQ+ people to work in the museum and heritage sector, while bringing a queer perspective to the Royal Armouries.
Sex Education Zine Cafe (Being Human Festival, 2020)
In November 2020, I co-organised an event for Being Human Festival with my colleague Dr Ashleigh Blackwood. The event was popular, selling out in two days and attracting an international audience of 60 people.
Following short talks about our research on how early modern people marginalised by gender, class or sexual practices acquired information about sex, we prompted our attendees to discuss their own experiences of sex education and their vision for the future. We then co-produced a zine with the participants, Sex Education Reimagined.
Comments on our evaluation survey indicated that the event had changed the way they would approach sex education in schools, their personal lives and (in some cases) plans for future academic study.
In 2018-19, I was postdoctoral research fellow on the international AHRC-funded project ‘Gendering Interpretations of the Collections of the V&A and Vasa Museums’.
My role on this project involved researching how medieval and early modern objects in the V&A’s collections might be gendered through an object biography/prosopography approach, and developing collaborative public engagement events to communicate this research.
I developed new relationships with organisations including the Royal College of Music and English Heritage, as well as individual artists, and I communicated the project’s findings to audiences including museum staff, volunteers and the general public.
The project resulted in commitments to changed curatorial practice at the V&A and Vasa Museums – both influential national institutions – as well as at other institutions including English Heritage and the People’s History Museum.
Together with the project team, I have published an open-access article about the project, as well as Gendering the Museum: A Toolkit (see above).
York LGBT History Month
From 2014-17, I was Outreach Coordinator and then Lead Coordinator of York LGBT History Month. This charity works to engage academic and non-academic partners to organise a festival of over 50 events in the York area each February, celebrating and raising awareness of the place of sexual and gender diversity in history, and creating an opportunity for academics (including myself) to disseminate their research.
During my time as Lead Coordinator from 2016-17, I successfully expanded our volunteer base and sourced sponsorship to create the largest programme yet organised by the charity; I also organised a regional hub of Outing the Past, a national festival of LGBT history.
In 2014-16 I served as Outreach Coordinator, developing new links with local schools and prisons and communicating the history of sexuality and gender to them in order to engage them in the festival.
Freelance heritage work
As well as changing practice at heritage institutions, I have carried out my own curatorial and heritage work – see my heritage page for more information.
I have extensive experience of engaging different public audiences on TV and radio – for past media appearances, please see my media page.