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Professor Joanna Bourke publishes new book exploring Birkbeck’s 200-year history

The book delves into the rich history of the College and its staff, both past and present.

Joanna stood next to a tree, holding her book

Professor of History, Joanna Bourke, has researched and authored a book, entitled Birkbeck: 200 Years of Radical Learning for Working People, that traces the rich 200 year history of Birkbeck, University of London.

Bourke's book tells the story of the College, from its founding in 1823, when one third of all men and half of women were unable to read or write, through to the present day. The social context of Birkbeck's foundation 200 years ago makes the College a unique institution. But Bourke's book is more than just a history of how the College contributed to the shaping of modern British higher education. It is also a history of life and culture in London over the past two centuries. She explores questions such as "what does it mean to be educated?," "why have Birkbeck's students been prepared to give up so much to study for a higher degree?," and "how can education help us become self-fulfilled and better people?"

Joanna Bourke commented: "It was such an adventure writing the history of Birkbeck. I became fascinated with the quirky passions and personalities that make up our community of students, academics, staff, and administrators. I hope that readers will also enjoy discovering new aspects of our history."

As well as being Professor of History at Birkbeck, Joanna Bourke is a prize-winning author of 15 books, and over 120 articles in academic journals. She is also a Fellow of the British Academy, and the Principal Investigator of an interdisciplinary Wellcome Trust-funded project, 'Sexual Harms and Medical Encounters' (SHaME), which explores medical and psychiatric aspects of sexual violence.

A story that explores the unique passions and personalities that make up the Birkbeck community, Birkbeck chronicles the unique history of the College, and is available to buy both in bookstores and online.

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