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Ruth Slatter

From May 2023 Dr Ruth Slatter will be Lecturer in Historic Environment & Knowledge Exchange Manager at the Institute of Historical Research. 

Ruth is an interdisciplinary historian who specialises in participatory histories and the study of peoples’ everyday uses and experiences of the historic built environment. 

Institute roles

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. 

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’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, ‘Sacred Squares? A non-representational study of James Smetham’s (1821-1889) everyday artistic experiences of religion, faith, and spirituality’, Journal of Historical Geography, forthcoming. 

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,