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PhD Candidate Maggan Mae Kalenak

PhD Candidate  Maggan Mae Kalenak

PhD Candidate, Faculty of History

Co-convenor, Modern British History Workshop

Maggan Kalenak is available for consultancy.


Maggan Kalenak is a PhD candidate in Modern British History at Girton College, Cambridge. She completed her undergraduate degree in History with a minor in Religious Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and has her MA in Museum Studies from Newcastle University. At the University of Cambridge, Maggan's thesis aims to fill a lacuna which currently exists in the study of romantic ritual and culture in nineteenth century England by examining the life period of engagement. Her work emphasises engagement as both a transitory and separate status from single or married. Through the application of various methodological approaches including material culture, sensory history and the history of emotions, her thesis aims to recover the lived experience of engagement for individuals; the cultural currency they were awarded, the social space they occupied, how fiancés interacted with each other and their communities, shifts in personal identities, and the characteristics and behaviours attributed to them in various forms of print-media. Her primary source material includes collections of personal correspondence, diaries, etiquette manuals and prescriptive literature, novels, and periodicals. 

Maggan has been awarded the Old Girtonians Graduate Research Scholarship both in 2018/19 and 2019/20. She was also the recipient of the Ruth Whaley Scholarship in 2018/19 and The Prince Consort Trust Fund Award in 2018/19. 

She is the co-convenor of the Modern British History Workshop. 

Research Interests

- Gender and Sexuality
-Relationships, Romance and Intimacy
-Epistolary Culture 
-Material Culture
-Sensory History 
-History of Emotions
-Histories of Mourning 
-Histories of the family 
-Histories of Fashion and Interior Design
-Nineteenth Century Literature
-Histories of Food and Consumption 


Maggan is currently available to supervise Part 1, Paper 10: British Economic and Social History, 1700-1880 for the following topics-
-Consumption and Material Culture
-Mortality, Medicine and Public Health, 1700-1880
-Gender and 19th-century Society
-Popular Cultures and Customs
-High Culture in the 19th Century


  • British social history c.1600-1850
  • Modern British History

Other Publications

Conference and Seminar Papers 

"'True to My Dust?': The Spectre of Mortality in Mid too Late 19th Century Romantic Relationships," Cambridge Body and Health Workshop, May 2019.

"Manufactured Sentiment: Debating Courtship Gifts in 19th Century England," Cambridge Material Culture Forum, April 2019.

"'Kiss This Letter Before You Put It By': Victorian Love Letters at Material Culture and Domestic Performance," Constructions of Love and Intimacy 1750-1850 Conference, February 2019.