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David Cowan


My PhD examines popular perceptions of social change and the future in Britain between the 1940s and the 1980s. It is funded by a Vice Chancellor's Scholarship, awarded by the Cambridge Trust in conjunction with Wolfson College. An article based on this research in Twentieth Century British History won the 2017 Duncan Tanner Prize. 

I have completed an MPhil in Modern British History (also at the University of Cambridge); my dissertation explored parenting and individualism in post-war England. An article based on this research is forthcoming in Social History. My undergraduate degree in History was at the University of Oxford. 

Research Interests

The social, cultural, and political history of Britain in the twentieth century. I research class, gender, emotions and selfhood; the history of the social sciences; vernacular political cultures; and how people read, listened to, viewed - and interpreted - the mass media.

Research Supervision

My PhD is supervised by Lucy Delap and Jon Lawrence.


Part I papers 6 (British political history, since 1880) and 11 (British economic and social history, since c. 1880). I have also taught the following Historical Argument and Practice topics: Cultural History, Marxist Historiography, Public History, Imperial History.

Other Professional Activities

I am co-convenor of the Modern British History graduate workshop, 2017-2018.


  • Economic, Social History
  • Modern British History

Key Publications

'The "Progress of a Slogan": Youth, Culture, and the Shaping of Everyday Political Languages in Late 1940s Britain', Twentieth Century British History, (forthcoming 2018) advance access

'"Modern" parenting and the uses of childcare advice in post-war England', Social History, 43, 3 (forthcoming August 2018)