We are delighted to announce that from May 2023 Dr Ruth Slatter will be the Institute of Historical Research’s new Lecturer in Historic Environment and Knowledge Exchange Manager. A member of the Institute’s Centre for the History of People, Place and Community, she will be teaching on the Institute’s MA History Place and Community and will be the Architectural Editor of the Victoria County History. 

Ruth will be moving to the Institute from The Open University, where she is currently a Lecturer in Geography. Ruth has also previously worked as Lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Hull. 

Ruth is an interdisciplinary historian who specialises in participatory histories and the study of peoples’ everyday uses and experiences of the historic built environment. Her background is in historical geography and art and design history. 

Ruth’s research explores how people have used, experienced, and been affected by the historic built environment. To date, her research has largely focused on people’s experiences of faith spaces and international exhibitions since the early nineteenth century. In recent years, she has led the British Academy-funded project Jumpers, Umbrellas, and Plastic Bags: material culture and women’s everyday experiences of Methodism in England from 1945 and received funding from the Royal Geographical Society to explore James Smetham’s lived experiences of Methodism in nineteenth-century Stoke Newington. 

Ruth’s research is grounded in interdisciplinarity and co-production. Having studied art and design history before completing her PhD in historical geography, she uses visual, material, and spatial approaches to explore the lived experiences of ordinary individuals often overlooked in written archives. She also uses participatory methods to co-produce knowledge with contemporary communities. Recently, this has included working with Methodist congregations to co-produce histories of their buildings, collaborating with Epworth Old Rectory and Methodist Women in Britain as they crowd-source an archive of women’s experiences of Methodism, and making creative interactions with the art of the Methodist and Pre-Raphaelite James Smetham. 

As role, Ruth will also be helping to develop Knowledge Exchange initiatives across the School of Advanced Study, working in collaboration with University of London Head of Engagement and Knowledge Exchange, Graeme Wise.