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Professor Matt Cook

  • Overview



    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 queer, public and community history. He is an editor of History Workshop Journal,  sits on the steering committee of the Birkbeck Institute of Gender and Sexuality (BIGS), and was director of the Raphael Samuel History Centre (2009 - 2018).

    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 has advised on a number of community and oral history, archive and museum projects including for the Pink Singers,  the nightclub Duckie, Heritage England’s 'Pride of Place' and the Pitt Rivers Museum's 'Beyond the Binary'. He worked with the National Trust on their Prejudice and Pride year (2017), and co-authored the associated LGBTQ guidebook. He appears regularly on radio, occasionally on TV, and has acted as a consultant on a number of series and documentaries.

    Matt joined Birkbeck in 2005 and was previously a lecturer in modern history at Keele University. 

    Administrative responsibilities

    • Assistant Dean and Head of Department

    Professional activities

    Matt sits on advisory boards for research projects nationally and internationally and regularly peer reviews for academic  journals and publishers. 

    Professional memberships

    • Matt is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (FRHS) and an member of the History Workshop Journal editorial collective

  • Research


    Research interests

    • Matt works on the history of sexuality and gender in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, on queer histories and cultures (including queer local, community and public histories), on the history of London, and on histories of home and family.

    Research Centres and Institutes

    Research clusters and groups

    • Difference, race and inequality
    • Public History
    • Mind and body
    • Environment: global, rural, global

    Research projects

    Sexualities and Localities, c. 1965-2013.

    Historic Passions: queer history making in Britain.

  • Supervision and teaching

    Supervision and teaching


    Matt is happy to discuss the supervision of projects in  19th- and 20th-century social, cultural and public history and especially  on queer histories and cultures, on histories of gender and sexuality, and on urban history. 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; Folk music in post war London;
    Medical treatments for homosexuality in the post world war II period;
    Bachelor domesticities in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries;
    Fandom and sexuality;Post-war representations of the paedophile; 
    and Anarchist communities in Britain and Italy.

    He currently supervises projects on 1980s gay radicalism; London lesbian and gay switchboard; Black queer women in interwar London and New York; and Caroline Ganley and radical women's networks in London. 

    Doctoral alumni since 2013-14



    Matt mainly teaches on the postgraduate gender and sexuality programmes, including on the modules Theorising Gender; Queer History, Queer Cultures; and Sex, Gender and the City. 

  • Publications




    Book Section

    • Cook, Matt (2017) The nursery. In: Gorman-Murray, A. and Cook, Matt (eds.) Queering the Interior. London, UK: Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 9781474262224.
    • Cook, Matt (2017) A bend in the river: queer home and heritage in a house in Hammersmith. In: Pilkey, B. and Scicluna, R.M. and Campkin, B. and Penner, B. (eds.) Sexuality and Gender at Home: Experience, Politics, Transgression. London, UK: Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 9781474239646.
    • Cook, Matt (2016) London, AIDS and the 1980s. In: Avery, S. and Graham, K.M. (eds.) Sex, Time and Place Queer Histories of London, c.1850 to the Present. London, UK: Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 9781474234924.
    • Cook, Matt (2013) Oscar Wilde’s London. In: Powell, K. and Raby, P. (eds.) Oscar Wilde in Context. Literature in Context. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781107016132.
    • Bauer, Heike (2012) Sexology backward: Hirschfeld, Kinsey and the reshaping of sex research in the 1950s. In: Bauer, Heike and Cook, Matt (eds.) Queer 1950s: Rethinking Sexuality in the Postwar Years. Genders and Sexualities in History. Basingstoke, Uk: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 133-149. ISBN 9780230300699.
    • Bauer, Heike and Cook, Matt (2012) Introduction: Queer 1950s: rethinking sexuality in the postwar years. In: Bauer, Heike and Cook, Matt (eds.) Queer 1950s: Rethinking Sexuality in the Postwar Years. Gender and Sexualities in History. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 1-10. ISBN 9780230300699.
    • Cook, Matt (2012) Warm homes in a cold climate: Rex Batten and the queer domestic. In: Bauer, Heike and Cook, Matt (eds.) Queer 1950s: Rethinking Sexuality in the Postwar Years. Gender and Sexualities in History. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 115-130. ISBN 9780230300699.
    • Cook, Matt (2012) Squatting in history: queer pasts and the cultural turn. In: Roseneil, Sasha and Frosh, Stephen (eds.) Social Research after the Cultural Turn. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 93-109. ISBN 9780230241589.
    • Cook, Matt (2012) Queer domesticities. In: Briganti, C. and Mezei, K. (eds.) The Domestic Space Reader. Toronto, Canada: Toronto University Press. ISBN 9780802096647.
    • Cook, Matt (2011) Homes fit for homos: Joe Orton, masculinity, and the domesticated queer. In: Arnold, John H. and Brady, Sean (eds.) What is Masculinity? Historical Dynamics from Antiquity to the Contemporary World. Genders and Sexualities in History. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9780230278134.
    • Cook, Matt (2009) Wilde lives: Derek Jarman and the queer eighties. In: Bristow, J. (ed.) Oscar Wilde and Modern Culture: The Making of a Legend. Athens, U.S.: Ohio University Press. pp. 285-304. ISBN 9780821418376.
    • Cook, Matt (2007) From gay reform to gaydar. In: Cook, Matt (ed.) A gay history of Britain: love and sex between men since the Middle Ages. Oxford, UK: Greenwood World Publishing. pp. 178-214. ISBN 1846450020.
    • Cook, Matt (2006) Law. In: Cocks, Harry G. and Houlbrook, Matt (eds.) Palgrave advances in the modern history of sexuality. Palgrave Advances. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 64-87. ISBN 1403912904.
    • Cook, Matt (2006) Law. In: Houlbrook, Matt and Cocks, H.G. (eds.) Palgrave Advances in the Modern History of Sexuality. London, UK: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9780230501805.
    • Cook, Matt (2006) Sex lives and diary writing: the journals of George Ives. In: Amigoni, D. (ed.) Life Writing and Victorian Culture. Farnham, Surrey, UK: Ashgate. pp. 195-214. ISBN 9780754635314.
    • Cook, Matt (1996) Words written without any stopping: Derek Jarman's written work. In: Wollen, R. (ed.) Derek Jarman: A Portrait. London, UK: Thames and Hudson. ISBN 9780500017234.
  • Business and community

    Business and community


    I am happy to receive enquiries from the media on the following topics:

    • LGBTQ histories and cultures
    • History of London


      Matt has appeared in radio and TV documentaries, debates and phone-ins. He has worked extensively with LGBTQ community groups delivering talks and workshops and has advised on a range of queer public and community history projects.