My research explores the social and cultural history of nineteeth- and twentieth-century Britain. I am especially interested in family, intimacy and fertility; childhood, youth and education; and community, citizenship and social policy in modern Britain.
My research is centred on the question of how social change and continuity happened in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Britain. I study the past through the experiences and social relationships that mattered to children, men and women, and my research focuses currently on two main areas.
My doctoral research, and the publications that emerged from this, explore questions of social change and diversity through a study of parenthood during the late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century fertility decline, when couples halved the size of their families. This interest in how men and women were altered by the experience of forming relationships with their children grew into working collaboratively on a co-edited forthcoming book on the the intergenerational transmission of parenthood.
My second research area examines children's lives and subjectivities in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Britain, especially as revealed by texts that were created by people when young. I am currently writing on the letters, drawings, poems and stories composed by children and published by the popular press in the seventy years before the Second World War. I also work on a collaborative research project on how experiences of adversity in childhood shaped the lives of people who grew up in twentieth-century Britain.
Sian Pooley,‘“Leagues of Love” and “Column Comrades”: Children’s Responses to War in late-Victorian and Edwardian England’, in L. Paul, R.R. Johnston, and E. Short (eds), Children’s Literature and Culture of the First World War (London: Routledge, 2016), pp. 301-18
Because all wars in the twenty-first century are potentially global wars, the centenary of the first global war is the occasion for reflection. This volume offers an unprecedented account of the lives, stories, letters, games, schools, institutions (such as the Boy Scouts and YMCA), and toys of children in Europe, North America, and the Global South during the First World War and surrounding years. By engaging with developments in Children’s Literature, War Studies, and Education, and mining newly available archival resources (including letters written by children), the contributors to this volume demonstrate how perceptions of childhood changed in the period. Children who had been constructed as Romantic innocents playing safely in secure gardens were transformed into socially responsible children actively committing themselves to the war effort. In order to foreground cross-cultural connections across what had been perceived as ‘enemy’ lines, perspectives on German, American, British, Australian, and Canadian children’s literature and culture are situated so that they work in conversation with each other. The multidisciplinary, multinational range of contributors to this volume make it distinctive and a particularly valuable contribution to emerging studies on the impact of war on the lives of children.
Social and subjective experience in nineteenth and twentieth century Britain
Children, childhood and the life course
Relationships between individuals, families and social policies
For further details of my collaborative research project on Childhood Adversity and Lifetime Resilience, see: torch.ox.ac.uk/childhood