Laura is a social historian, with a particular interest in the histories of working-class youth, leisure, courtship and urban space.



About me

After graduating from the University of Glasgow in July 2008, I spent the summer working for the Glasgow Women’s Library ‘Find a Solution’ Project, advising the Library on the feasibility of recording historical resources and archives on women in Scotland. You can read about the GWL’s fantastic work and collections here. I began my MA in History and Politics at the University of York in 2009, receiving a distinction. After a year spent living and teaching in Thailand, I began a PhD in History at the University of Leeds in 2011, which was completed in early 2015. I then received a Fulbright scholarship to spend the 2015-16 academic year at Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri, as the Fulbright-Robertson Visiting Professor in British History, where I spent time working on my first monograph and taught classes on British social history. In 2016 I began teaching at the University of the West of England, in my current role as a senior lecturer in Modern History.



Over the last few years my research has been concerned with the young working classes of York, their leisure and courtship activities, as well as the relationship between these activities and the streets and public spaces of the city. This research formed the basis of my PhD thesis, which I am currently revising for publication.

My interest in the problems and possibilities generated by the growth of towns and cities in the nineteenth century has also led to an increasing interest in urban poverty, in particular the attempts made by reformers to understand and ‘map’ the slums of the Victorian and Edwardian city. An interest in how historians can negotiate both the social construction and physical attributes of poor working-class districts led to my first article: ‘Creating the slum: representations of poverty in the Hungate and Walmgate districts of York, c.1875-1914’, which is available to read open-access here.


Follow me on twitter as @DrLau_Harrison