Introducing… Emma Griffin

Written by Emma GriffinMarch 13, 2019Comments: 0

What’s your name?

Emma Griffin

What’s your background?

I’m a historian of modern Britain. In the late 1990s, I did a PhD on popular sports and pastimes in Britain over the long eighteenth century, but since then my work has moved into the history of industrialisation. In part I have sought to understand exactly what was the industrial revolution and what caused it, but I have also been particularly interested in the ways in which that event altered the life of ordinary people. It is these research interests that brought me to the Living with Machines project.

Outside my role on the project, I am a professor of modern British History at UEA and in that role teach students and help with running the department – I am currently the Research Director, which involves supporting and guiding colleagues’ research. I am currently trying to complete a book on the links between family life and the economy in Victorian Britain, based on a survey of several hundred working-class autobiographies. I also have a book under contract with Allen Lane, provisionally entitled Industrial Revolutions: A World History, in which I plan to consider more deeply than hitherto the global context if industrialisation.

In one sentence, what is your role on the project?

I am a Co-I, and it is my role, along with fellow historians Jon Lawrence, Katherine McDonough, and Daniel Wilson, to help select historical data to work with and to shape the research questions.

What excites you about the project?

For many years, I have been aware of the sources that our project will work with and of their great potential, but as a lone scholar I simply don’t have the skills to work with very large datasets. The possibility for enhancing our understanding of the impact of modernisation on everyday life through this project is immense, and that is very exciting.

What challenges do you see ahead?

There are plenty of challenges in being a historian in a team with others so many different disciplines. We simply don’t share the same stock of knowledge, working methods, or understanding. With such a large team, and being based in Norwich rather than in the Turing Institute, it is also slower to get to know people on a personal level as well as to keep track on what different branches of the team are doing.

What’s the last (non-work) book you read, exhibition or performance you saw?

I do a lot of reading for work and don’t spend much time reading fiction. Fortunately, my children are now of an age that I can properly enjoy the books I read with them – we recently finished A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, and it was great!

Finally, where can people find out more about you and your work?

I have a departmental webpage here and my own website here I tweet (very, very occasionally) as @emmagriffinhist.

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