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Ruth Slatter

Dr Ruth Slatter is Lecturer in Historic Environment & Knowledge Exchange Manager at the Institute of Historical Research.  

Ruth is interested in people's everyday experiences of religion, faith and spritituality since the nineteenth century. To explore these themes, she uses architecture and material & visual culture, historical geography and participatory approaches.

Institute roles

Dr Ruth Slatter is Lecturer in Historic Environment and Knowledge Exchange Manager at the Institute of Historical Research. She is a member of the Institute’s Centre for the History of People, Place and Community, where she is a General Editor (focused on architecture) of the Victoria County History and convenes the Centre's People, Place and Community Seminar series.

Ruth is a tutor on the MA in History, Place & Community. She convenes the Historic Places: Landscapes, Buildings & Significance module (with Dr Adam Chapman) and contributes to the Applied Public History module. 

Research interests

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 is currently exploring how, why and with what consequences histories of Christian mission have been used by Christian communities and social action organisations since 1945.

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. 


Journal articles

R. Slatter, Geographical Approaches to Religion in the Past, Geography Compass. Online first:

R. Slatter, Sacred Squares? A non-representational study of James Smetham’s (1821-1889) everyday artistic experiences of religion, faith, and spirituality. Journal of Historical Geography, 79 (2023) 26-38,

S. Denning, R. Scriven and R. Slatter, ‘Three Participatory Geographers: Reflections on Positionality and Working with Participants in Researching Religions, Spiritualities, And Faith. Social and Cultural Geography’, 23.6, (2022), 892-910,

R. Slatter, ‘Worship, social gatherings and the ‘more-than-Wesleyan’: the multiple uses and congregational experiences of London’s Wesleyan Methodist chapels (1851-1932)’. The London Journal, 46.2, (2021), 165-186,

R. Slatter, ‘Becoming chapels and everyday congregations: how the repair and maintenance of London’s Wesleyan chapels illustrates their communities’ everyday practices and experiences (1851-1932)’, Journal of Design History, 33.1, (2020), 34-49,

R. Slatter, ‘Materiality and the extended geographies of religion: the institutional design and everyday experiences of London’s Wesleyan Methodist circuits, 1851 – 1932’, Journal of Historical Geography, 64, (2019), 60-71,

R. Slatter (née Mason), ‘Material 'Becomings' and a Historical Geography of Religious Experience: Metropolitan Methodism, 1851-1932’, Area, 51.1, (2019), 14-24,

R. Slatter (née Mason), ‘Materialities and Historical Geographies: an introduction’, Area, 51.1, (2019), 2-6,

R. Slatter (née Mason), ‘A ‘More-than-Architectural’ Approach to Faith Spaces: Wesleyan Methodist Spaces in London, 1851-1932’, Interiors: Design, Architecture, Culture, Spaces of Faith Special Issue, 6.3, (2015), 306-328,

R. Slatter (née Mason), ‘The Design of Nineteenth-Century Wesleyan Space: Re-Reading F.J. Jobson’s’ Chapel and School Architecture. Wesley and Methodist Studies, 7.1, (2015), 78-99,

R. Slatter (née Mason), ‘Free from Censure: A Communion Token from the Scots Church London Wall’, Journal of the Antique Metalware Society, 19, (2011), 50-59, 

Book Chapters

R. Slatter and J. Worthen (2023), The Methodist Women's Collection: a feminist archive, in Thomas Dobson (Ed.), Our Justice Journeys: Three Centuries of Striving for a Better World (Oxford Centre for Methodism and Church History).