Matt Kidd joins the History team


Dr Matt Kidd will be covering Dr Vicky Morrisroe who is on sabbatical this semester.

I’m very excited about the prospect of teaching at the University of Gloucestershire next semester, where I’ll be leading two modules, ‘Politics and Empire in the Age of Gladstone and Disraeli’ (Level 5) and ‘Consensus and Conflict in Post-War Britain, 1945-1990’ (Level 6). I will also be delivering a few lectures and seminars on the ‘Making the Modern World: Themes in History’ (Level 4) module.

I thought I’d tell you a little about myself before I started teaching next week. I’m originally from a town called Olney, which is located 12 miles outside Northampton and which is best described as ‘pleasant’ (if you’re over 18) or ‘dull’ (if you’re under 18). As an undergraduate student at the University of Northampton, I began to take an interest in understanding the nature of political and ideological change. How and why do people’s ideas about politics, society and culture change over time? Are these ideological changes driven by deeper socio-economic factors, or by shifts in the political arena? I grappled with these questions in both my undergraduate dissertation and over the course of my MA studies, which I completed at Birkbeck College, University of London.

By the time I began studying for an MA, I had become fascinated with working-class political movements in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Britain, including Chartism, the political reform movements of the 1860s, the post-Chartist radical, trade unionist and socialist movements, and the Labour party. But understanding the nature of political and ideological change was, and remains, my primary research objective. As a PhD candidate and teacher at the University of Nottingham, I sought to uncover the similarities between two political traditions, working-class radicalism and labourism, which had long been considered distinct from one another. With a particular focus on Bristol and Northampton, my doctoral thesis argued that during the mid-Victorian era, working-class radicals in these constituencies formed lively political subcultures that existed outside the confines of mainstream party politics. At the core of this political culture was a strong sense of class, which informed radicals’ understanding of the world around them. From the 1880s onwards, members of this tradition played a pivotal role in building up local ‘labour’ movements that would, over the next forty years, coalesce into the Labour party. But as my thesis demonstrated, the transition from ‘working-class radical’ to ‘labour’ politics primarily represented a change in language rather than a substantive change in ideology. In short, labour politics in Bristol and Northampton was essentially working-class radicalism in a new guise.

I feel extremely privileged to be able to be able share my passion for modern British history with undergraduates at the University of Gloucestershire. I look forward to meeting and getting to know many of you over the next few months

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