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Professor Barbara Taylor

Professor of Humanities



Barbara Taylor

I grew up in Saskatoon, in western Canada, where I completed my first degree (in Political Thought) in 1971. I then moved to London to do an M.Sc in political thought at the London School of Economics, followed by a PhD in History at the University of Sussex.  I taught history at the University of East London from 1993 until 2012 when I came to Queen Mary to take up a joint professorship in the Schools of English & Drama, and History. I have held visiting professorships at the universities of Amsterdam, Indiana, Notre Dame, and the École des hautes études en sciences sociales. I have been an editor of History Workshop Journal since 1982, and I am the QMUL Director of the Raphael Samuel History Centre (a partnership between Queen Mary UL, Birkbeck College UL, the University of East London, and Bishopsgate Institute).


As Professor of Humanities, based in both English and History, I aim to promote interdisciplinary teaching while also contributing to discipline-based modules in both Schools.

Undergraduate teaching:

In the 2014-15 academic year, I am teaching on:

Postgraduate teaching:

In 2014-15 academic year, I am teaching on:


Research interests:

My interests lie in the relationship between subjectivity and intellectual/political change, especially in the period 1660-1850. My early research focused on feminist theory and history: I have published two well-known books on British feminism, and in the late 1990s I ran a Leverhulme-funded international research project on feminism and Enlightenment.  More recently my attention has focussed on ideas about selfhood and subjectivity in Britain from the Restoration onward.   I am the co-convenor of a long-standing seminar at the Institute of Historical Research on ‘Psychoanalysis and History’, and I have written a personal history of mental health care in the late twentieth century. 

  • Theories, Histories and Representations of Subjectivity
  • Enlightenment Studies
  • Psychoanalytic Studies
  • Feminist Theory and History
  • Radical Writing in Britain, 1790-1850

Recent and On-Going Research:

My research in recent years has focussed on selfhood and subjectivity from the late 17th to the late 20th century. In 2012 I published an edited collection of essays on psychoanalysis and history (History and Psyche: Culture, Psychoanalysis and the Past, co-edited with Sally Alexander), and my most recent book is a memoir-cum-historical account of the transition from institutional to community-based psychiatric care in late 20th century Britain (The Last Asylum, 2014). I am currently writing a book about attitudes to solitude among Enlightenment intellectuals in 18th century Britain.


Single-Authored Books:

The Last Asylum (Penguin, 2014)

Mary Wollstonecraft and the Feminist Imagination (Cambridge University Press, 2003)

Eve and the New Jerusalem: Socialism and Feminism in the Nineteenth Century (Virago, 1983; Harvard University Press, 1992)

Co-Authored books:

On Kindness, with Adam Phillips (Penguin, 2009; Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2009)

Edited Books:

History & Psyche: Culture, Psychoanalysis and the Past, edited with Sally Alexander (Palgrave, 2012)  

Women, Gender and Enlightenment, 1650-1850, edited with Sarah Knott (Palgrave, 2005; pbk 2007)

Journal Articles and Book Chapters:

‘Separations of Soul: Solitude, Biography, History’, American Historical Review, 114.3, 2009

‘Marian Engel’s Bear’, Women: a Cultural Review, 21.2, 2010

‘The Demise of the Asylum in Late Twentieth Century Britain’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, vol 20, 2011

‘Enlightenment and the Uses of Woman’, History Workshop Journal, 74, 2012

‘Historical Subjectivity’, in Sally Alexander and Barbara Taylor, eds, History and Psyche: Culture, Psychoanalysis, and the Past (Palgrave, 2012)

Reprints and Translations:

‘The Religious Foundations of Mary Wollstonecraft’s Feminism’, in Claudia Johnson, ed., Cambridge Companion to Mary Wollstonecraft (Cambridge University Press). Reprinted in Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Norton Critical Edition (Deidre Lynch, ed), 2009

 ‘Mary Wollstonecraft and the Wild Wish of Early Feminism’, History Workshop Journal, no 33, 1992; and ‘For the Love of God: Religion and the Erotic Imagination in Wollstonecraft’s Feminism’ in E. Yeo, ed., Mary Wollstonecraft and 200 Years of Feminisms (London, Rivers Oram, 1997), both reprinted in Jane Moore, ed., Mary Wollstonecraft (London, Ashgate, 2012)

On Kindness (Penguin, 2009): Italian, French, Spanish, German and Brazilian editions (2009-2012)

Web Articles:

‘History Workshop Journal’ (2009):

‘History, the Nation and the Schools’ (2011):

See also my Queen Mary Research Publications profile


PhD Supervision

I would welcome enquiries from potential doctoral students interested in any of the areas of my research.

Public engagement

You can read about a selection of my media and public appearances here.

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