Dr David Cowan

David Cowan
I teach and direct studies at Trinity Hall. My key areas of interest in modern British history are: class and inequality; 'everyday' politics; and selfhood and popular culture. 
My first book, Politics of the Past, was released in 2024 with Cambridge University Press in their 'Modern British Histories' series. It explores the evolution of popular memories of the inter-war years in Britain and their political implications, and is particularly concerned with the stories about the past transmitted within families. 
An article based on an early part of this research won the Duncan Tanner Prize and was published in Twentieth Century British History. A more recent article connected to this research in Cultural and Social History looks at the relationship between memory and community amongst television viewers in the 1970s and 1980s, within and beyond Britain.
I am now working on a cultural history of the rich in modern Britain. If my doctoral research was mostly about popular politics, this new post-doctoral project will also encompass popular ideas about the economy. I'm approaching this as a series of case studies, stretching up to the twenty-first century. I have completed new research on celebrity and the Second World War, on debates about wealth taxes in the 1960s and 1970s, on the National Lottery (est. 1994), and am currently working on service workers - a waiter, a taxi driver, a cook - who wrote autobiographies published between the world wars that detailed their encounters with wealthy customers. 
Growing out of this project, I am also preparing a detailed study of one of these service workers - a waiter named Arthur Henry Timmins - who travelled the world, writing his books under the pseudonym 'Dave Marlowe'.
An article based on some earlier research is out in Social History, in which I argue that the reception of childcare advice from experts amounted to a 'reworking' of working-class culture. 


1A - Outline 7, Modern Britain and Ireland; Introduction to Historical Thinking

1B - Research Projects in Modern British History and Contemporary History

Part 2 - Dissertations; Special Subject L, The Transformation of Everyday Life in Post-War Britain, 1945-1990; Historical Argument and Practice


Tags & Themes


Trinity Hall, Trinity Lane, CB2 1TJ


Key publications

Politics of the Past (2024).
'Nostalgia, Community, and Late-Twentieth-Century Television', Cultural and Social History, 18, 5 (2021).
'The "Progress of a Slogan": Youth, Culture, and the Shaping of Everyday Political Languages in Late 1940s Britain', Twentieth Century British History, 29, 3 (2018).

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