I completed my undergraduate and postgraduate studies at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, where I earned a PhD in History in 2004. I then taught at St Patrick's College (Dublin City University) and NUI Maynooth before moving to the UK in 2007. Since then, I have taught US history at Newcastle University, the University of Essex, and I spent almost nine years at St Mary's University, Twickenham, where I was a Senior Lecturer in US History.
Broadly speaking, I am a historian of the period we like to call 'The Sixties'. Within this, there are two main strands to my research. The first strand concerns the history and practice of protest, and how people engage with the state, and with each other, through the means of grass-roots protest. I did my doctoral research on student protest in France and the US in the sixties, with a focus on the ways that these protest movements shaped, and were in turn shaped by, discourses of gender. More recently, I have written about housing protest in Dublin in the 1960s, setting those protests within the context of global activism and political commemoration.
The second strand looks at the ways we remember and view the sixties through the prism of autobiography. I am currently working on a project that investigates the autobiographies of women activists within the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. How does writing ones own story allow women to assert control over, and subvert, narratives of the past? How do these women shape their stories for a public audience? How do these stories act as extensions of protest and activism?
I have spent most of my career teaching US and broader American history, especially around the themes of race, gender and political change. At the OU, I am on the module team for A225 (The British Isles and the Modern World) and A326 (Empire, 1492-1975).
I am the Secretary for the Society for the History of Women in the Americas, and I am a co-convenor of a monthly seminar on Gender and History in the Americas at the Institute of the Historical Research.