Professor Matt Cook
Professor of Modern History
Department of History, Classics and Archaeology
Birkbeck, University of Lomdon
26 Russell Square
Tel: 020 7631 6680
Professor Cook's new book now out
This Birkbeck Voices interview features Matt talking about his recent book Queer Domesticities: Homosexuality and Home Life in Twentieth-Century London (Palgrave Macmillan)
- Matt Cook is a cultural historian specializing in the history of sexuality and the history of London in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He has a background in literary and cultural theory and strong interests in cross-disciplinary work and public and community history. He is Birkbeck Director of the Raphael Samuel History Centre and an editor of History Workshop Journal.
- In 2014 Matt was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship by the Higher Education Academy for his work at Birkbeck and in archive and community settings. He is a member of the steering committees of the Birkbeck Institute of Gender and Sexuality (BIGS) and Birkbeck Institute of the Moving Image (BIMI), and has advised on a number of community and oral history projects including for the London Metropolitan Archives, Pink Singers and Stonewall/GALOP.
- Matt joined Birkbeck in 2005 and was previously a lecturer in modern history at Keele University.
Research and Teaching
- Research interests
- Matt works on the history of sexuality and gender in nineteenth and twentieth century Britain, on the history of London, and on histories of home and family. He most recent books, Queer Domesticities: homosexuality and home life in twentieth century London and Queer Cities, Queer Cultrue: Europe since 1945 (edited with Jennifer Evans) appeared in 2014. He is currently working on pieces relating to the AIDS crisis and queer community history.
- ‘Gender Space and Time’ (in conjunction with the Department of Geography, Environment and Development Studies)
- ‘Oral History’ (in the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology).
- He previously also taught ‘Constructing the Capital: London and the Nineteenth Century’ and ‘Constructing the Metropolis’ as part of the History Certificate Programme.
- Postgraduate (taught)
- Matt is programme director for the cross-disciplinary MA gender Sexuality and Culture [hyperlink - http://www.bbk.ac.uk/study/2014/postgraduate/programmes/TMAGNSCU_C/] and MSc Gender, Sexuality and Society [hyperlink: http://www.bbk.ac.uk/study/2014/postgraduate/programmes/TMSGNSSO_C/].
- He offers modules on:
- ‘Theorising Gender’
- ‘Queer Cities, Queer Cultures’
- ‘Sex and City: London, 1850 – 1914’.
- He has previously also taught modules on class in the nineteenth century and Victorian literature and culture. He was convenor for the School of Social Science, History and Philosophy’s ‘Masterclass in Social Research’ in 2014.
- PhD supervision
- Matt is happy to discuss the supervision of projects on 19th- and 20th-century cultural and urban history and on the history of gender and sexuality. If you are interested in pursuing research in any of these areas, you should first read our advice on how to apply for MPhil/PhD research before submitting an application.
- He is also interested in interdisciplinary projects and is happy to co-supervise with Birkbeck colleagues working in other schools and departments.
- He has supervised successful doctoral projects on:
- Queer Catholicism in the nineteenth century
- The History of Euphoria
- The Ghanain community in London
- Literary murder in the nineteenth century sensation fiction and theatre
- Medical treatments for homosexuality in the post world war II period.
- He is currently supervising projects on
- Bachelor domesticities in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries
- Folk music in post war London
- Fandom and sexuality
- The post-war history of paedophilia
- A comparative study of post war anarchist communities in Britain and Italy
- Queer Domesticities: Homosexuality and Home Life in Twentieth-Century London. (Palgrave, 2014).
- London and the Culture of Homosexuality, 1885 - 1914 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003).
- A Gay History of Britain: Love and Sex Between Men since the Middle Ages (Oxford: Greenwood, 2007) – editor and lead author.
- Queer 1950s: Rethinking Sexuality in the Post-war Years (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012) – co-editor (with Heike Bauer).
- Forthcoming books
- Queer Domesticities: Homosexuality and Home Life in Twentieth Century London (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).
- Queer Cities, Queer Cultures: Sexuality and Urban Life in post-1945 Europe (London: Continuum, 2014) – co-editor (with Jennifer Evans)
- Articles in refereed journals
- ‘A New City of Friends: London and Homosexuality in the 1890s’, in History Workshop Journal, 56 (autumn 2003), 35 – 58
- ‘Orton in the Archives’, in History Workshop Journal, 66 (Autumn 2008), 163- 179
- ‘Families of Choice? George Ives, Queer Lives and the Family’, in Gender and History, 20 (Spring, 2010), 1 – 20.
- ‘Domestic Passions: Unpacking the Homes of Charles Shannon and Charles Ricketts', Journal of British Studies 51, 3 (July 2012), 618 – 640.
- ' Gay Times': Identity, Locality, Memory and the Brixton Squats in 1970's London’, Journal of Twentieth Century British History, 24, 1 (2013), 84-109.
- “Words Written Without any Stopping”: Derek Jarman’s Written Work’, in Roger Wollen, ed., Derek Jarman: A Portrait, (London: Thames and Hudson, 1996).
- ‘Sex Lives and Diary Writing: the Journals of George Ives’, in David Amigoni, ed., Life Writing and Victorian Culture (London: Ashgate, 2006), 195 – 214.
- ‘Law’, in H.G.Cocks and Matt Houlbrook, eds, The Modern History of Sexuality (Palgrave, 2006).
- ‘Wilde Lives: Derek Jarman and the Queer Eighties’, in Joseph Bristow, ed., Oscar Wilde and Modern Culture: The Making of a Legend (Ohio University Press, 2008).
- ‘Homes Fit for Homos: Joe Orton and the Domesticated Queer’, in Sean Brady and John Arnold, eds, What is Masculinity? Historical Perspectives and Arguments (Basingstoke: Palgave Macmillan, 2011).
- ‘Queer Domesticities’, in Chiara Briganti and Kathy Mezei, eds, The Domestic Space Reader, (Toronto: Toronto University Press, 2012).
- ‘Squatting in History: Queer Pasts and the Cultural Turn’, in Sasha Roseneil and Stephen Frosh, eds, Social Research After the Cultural Turn (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011).
- 'Love in a Cold Climate: Rex Batten and the Evidence of Experience', in Matt Cook and Heike Bauer, eds, Queer 1950s (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012)
- ‘"Gay" London’, in Matt Cook and Jennifer Evans, eds, Queer Cities, Queer Cultures: Sexuality and Urban Life in post-1945 Europe (London: Continuum, 2014)
- ‘Oscar Wilde’s London’, in Peter Raby, ed. Oscar Wilde in Context (Oxford: OUP, 2013)
- ‘Sexual Revolution(s) in Britain’, in Gert Hekma and Alain Giami, eds, Sexual Revolutions (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014)
- Matt has regularly participated in TV and radio news and documentaries. Some highlights:
- He discussed the history of transvestism on Radio 4’s Today Programme (22nd January 2013).
- He participated in a debate on gay marriage for the BBC World News TV channel’s lunchtime (for Europe; early evening in Asia) news programme (5 Feb 2013).
- He contributed to BBC Radios ‘500 Years of Friendship’ series (April 2014):
- ‘Comrades and Lovers’
- ‘A Battalion of Pals’
- Croatian TV channel HRT (www.hrt.hr) interviewed him for a historical perspective on gay marriage and rights for documentary programme 'Parallels' (May 2013).
- He talked about his research on community radio stations in Norway and for the UK’s Gaydio (July 2012).
- He was interviewed about my research for ‘Am I Normal?’ (BBC1 2008), ‘Victorians Uncovered’ (Channel 4) and ‘Prince Eddy: The King We Never Had’ (Channel 4, 2005).
- More recently he worked on ‘Brixton Faeries: made possible by squatting’ (2014)
- BBC4 Thinking Allowed, 'Gaybourhood and City Life' (August 2014)
Grants and Awards
- National Teaching Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, 2014
- AHRC Research Fellowship, ‘Queer Domesticities’ 1 – 12 / 2012.
- NIACE – £30,000 funding for ‘Love in History’, a Raphael Samuel Centre public history festival in 2011.
- AHRC match funded research leave, 1 – 5 / 2005
- Harry Ransom Humanities Research Centre Fellow, 2004