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Jo Fox

Jo Fox is Director of the Institute of Historical Research and Professor of Modern History at the University of London

Jo leads on the Institute's strategic development as the UK's national centre for history. A historian of the modern era, she is a specialist in the history of propaganda, rumour and truth telling.

jo.fox@sas.ac.uk; tel +44 (0)7862 8074

Institute roles

Professor Jo Fox is Director of the Institute of Historical Research and Professor of Modern History at the University of London. She joined the Institute in January 2018 and was previously Professor of Modern History and Head of Department at Durham University, where she began her academic career in 1999.

Research interests

Jo is a specialist in the history of propaganda and psychological warfare in twentieth-century Europe. She has published on propaganda in Britain and Germany during the First and Second World Wars, in particular exploring the connections between propaganda and popular opinion. She is currently working on a history of rumour in the Second World War and, with David Coast (Bath Spa), on a major project on rumour and politics in England from 1500 to the present day. 

Jo has contributed to broadcasts for the BBC (Woman’s Hour, Making History, the One Show and various documentaries for BBC4, including acting as historical consultant for The Documentary Film Mob) and BBC Radio 4, including presenting an episode of Document on ‘Scotland’s Lord Haw-Haw), CBC (Canada), PBS (United States), Channel 10 (Australia) and ABC (Australia). Jo is also active in the Museums, Archives and Heritage Sectors. In addition to supervising three AHRC Collaborative Doctoral students, she regularly assists museums and archives in their public programmes and exhibitions.

Jo's wider academic work

Jo is passionate about widening participation in Higher Education. Together with Ben Dodds, she created an initiative to bring cutting-edge research into local schools with a view to encourage progression to higher education among low participation communities. Jo regularly give talks and run workshops in schools in the UK.

She has also been involved in initiatives to promote gender equality in Higher Education, such as the Royal Historical Society’s report on gender equality and as an invited speaker at several gender equality events in London, Glasgow, Oxford, and most recently at the Royal Society of Ireland. She has been an Athena Swan assessor and panel chair, and serves as a member of the working group for the Athena Swan Charter Mark.

She has previously served as the Honorary Communications Director of the Royal Historical Society. She is a National Teaching Fellow (2007), a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (FRHistS), and a Fellow of the Royal Society for Manufactures and the Arts (FRSA).

Publications: monographs

  • Filming Women in the Third Reich (Oxford, 2000), 268 pp.
  • Film Propaganda in Britain and Nazi Germany: World War II Cinema (Oxford, 2007), 358 pp.   

Edited collections

  • Justifying War: Propaganda, Politics and the Modern Age, with David Welch (Basingstoke, 2013), 397 pp.
  • Propaganda and Conflict. War, Media and Shaping the Twentieth Century, with Mark Connelly, Stefan Goebbel and Ulf Schmidt (Bloomsbury, 2019), 350 pp.

Journal articles and book chapters

  • '"Heavy hands and light touches”: approaches to the study of cinematic culture in the Third Reich', History Compass (2003)
  • ‘Resistance and the Third Reich’, Journal of Contemporary History, 39 (2004), 271-85
  • ‘Winston Churchill and the “Men of Destiny”: Reflections on leadership and the role of the prime minister in the British wartime feature films’, in Julie Gottlieb and Richard Toye (eds.), Power, Personality and Persuasion: The Impact of the Individual on British Politics since 1867 (London, 2005), 92-108
  • '"The Mediator”: images of radio in feature film in Britain and Germany, 1940-1941’, in Welch, D. and Connelly, M. (eds.), War and the Media: Reportage and Propaganda (London, 2005), 92-112
  • ‘John Grierson, his “Documentary Boys” and the British Ministry of Information, 1939-1942’, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, 25 (2005), 345-69
  • 'Millions Like Us? Accented language and the 'Ordinary' in British films of the Second World War', Journal of British Studies, 45 (2006), 819-45
  • 'German cinema and the United Kingdom, 1933-45', in Roel Vande Winkel and David Welch (eds.), Cinema and the Swastika: The International Expansion of the Third Reich Cinema (Basingstoke, 2007), 289-305
  • ‘Heldinnen des Alltags: Heroic motherhood in Nazi film - Mutterliebe (1939) and Annelie (1941)’, Historical Reflections/ Réflexions Historiques, 35/2 (2009), 21-39.  Reproduced in Brett Bowles (ed.), The Politics of French and German Cinema, 1930-1945 (Oxford, 2011)
  • ‘Propaganda and the flight of Rudolf Hess, 1941-45', Journal of Modern History, 83 (2011), 78-110
  • ‘Careless talk: tensions within British domestic propaganda during the Second World War’, Journal of British Studies, 51 (2012), 936-66
  • ‘“To Be a Woman”: female labour and memory in documentary film production, 1929–50', Journal of British Cinema and Television, 10 (2013), 584-602
  • 'From documentary film to television documentaries: John Grierson and This Wonderful World', Journal of British Cinema and Television, 10 (2013), 498-523
  • ‘The propaganda war’ in Bosworth, R.J.B. & Maiolo, Joseph A. (eds.), The Cambridge History of the Second World War (Cambridge, 2015)
  • ‘Making sense of the war', 1914-1918-online. International Encyclopedia of the First World War, ed. by Ute Daniel, Peter Gatrell, Oliver Janz, Heather Jones, Jennifer Keene, Alan Kramer, and Bill Nasson (2015)
  • (with David Coast) 'Rumour and politics', History Compass, 13/5 (2015), 222-34
  • ‘Art and Propaganda’, in Joanna Bourke, (ed.), War and Art. A Visual History of Modern Conflict (London, 2017)
  • 'Confronting Lord Haw-Haw: rumor and Britain's wartime Anti-Lies Bureau', Journal of Modern History, 91 (2019), 74-108