I was absolutely delighted to join the journal’s team as Reviews Editor for Social History in September 2022. My own research deals with histories of crime and inequality in Britain and transnationally, with a particular focus on histories of burglary and policing (the subject of my first book, Night Raiders: Burglary and the Making of Modern Urban Life in London, 1860-1968, published with Oxford University Press in 2019). Indeed, in 2015 Social History published my article on the famous interwar Metropolitan Police Detective Frederick Porter Wensley, whose collection of scrapbooks at the Bishopsgate Institute Archives offers a unique insight into the way he sought to fashion his celebrity persona and detective career; especially during a period when the reputation of police, and their relationship with the press, were being called into question by politicians and the reading public. My experience of publishing with the journal was extremely supportive, with helpful feedback and a smooth publication process.
More recently, my research has encompassed projects on child emigration from Britain to Canada 1860-1935, and the history of hotels as incubators of modern slavery, sparking civil rights protests against disability discrimination, LGBTQ+ access, and the ‘colour bar’ in twentieth-century Britain. As this suggests, my interests are varied in terms of themes, periods, and geographies, as I have increasingly explored British history in global and imperial contexts. I am also a fan of history in general, and love hearing about others’ research, whether ancient, medieval, early modern, or modern, local, regional, national, transnational or global, intellectual, economic, emotions-based, or material, and all the other amazing sub-fields of our subject as well! Being offered the role of Reviews Editor was therefore an extremely exciting opportunity to learn about the latest publications in History, gaining a much stronger appreciation of the rich wealth of work across the field.
New Directions for the Reviews Section
My ‘vision’ for the Reviews pages of the journal is to retain the lively, critical, and constructive analyses of the latest works in History that it is already known for, whilst gradually bringing in some new innovations. These include theming certain issues of the section to draw into conversation monographs that deal with similar periods, topics, themes, geographies and/or approaches, to assist researchers at all levels of the profession to identify new trends in a given sub-field. I am also keen to commission reviews that are not necessarily of monographs, but instead encompass the wider outputs of historians and heritage practitioners. These include reviews of museum exhibitions, public history events, and new archival collections. For example, take a look at Professor Adrian Bingham’s brilliant review of the new British Pop Archive at the John Rylands Library in Manchester. Above all, I hope to make the Reviews section (even more) of a resource for historians, and a useful space for history-teaching. This stems in part from my experience as Senior Lecturer in Modern British History at the University of Manchester. Students often turn to the Reviews section of journals as a first port-of-call to read a helpful summary and offer critical insight into recent works in History, sometimes as a starting-point for dissertations, and this is a function we could develop and enhance to future-proof the labour that goes into writing reviews. As Director of our MA in Public History, I know that both staff and students value having a written legacy of the reception and experiences of history as told through museums and heritage sites, and the Reviews section offers an opportunity to document this (I can also offer some small financial support for these activities).
Colleagues in academia are also concerned to see their own monographs reviewed by esteemed peers and those with fresh insights, an important tradition that leads to career development. For reviewers, writing a review represents an opportunity to keep track of the latest books in your field, to signal areas of history in which you hold expertise or are moving into (particularly handy if you’re just starting a new project!), and for PhDs and early career researchers, to establish yourself as a new voice offering a critical perspective on the existing field. You also get a free book (and academic books tend to be pricey…!). With these different audience needs in mind, I have issued invitations to both established and emerging scholars to write a diverse range of reviews, which will hopefully become evident in the journal’s pages over the coming years. If you would like to write a review, please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Eloise Moss is Reviews Editor for Social History and Senior Lecturer in Modern British History at the University of Manchester. She has been awarded a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship (2023-24) to complete her forthcoming book entitled Hotelympus: A History of Power and Prejudice in Modern Britain. Follow her on twitter @ladyburglar, or read more here: https://research.manchester.ac.uk/en/persons/eloise.moss