Historical Research at Sussex is organised around Research Centres focusing either on specific periods and geographical regions, or distinctive agendas and methodologies. Additionally, all staff contribute to putting History at Sussex at the forefront of the field through individual research projects, which in turn directly inform our teaching.

Research Centres

We have several internationally acclaimed research centres, and run a weekly and long-established seminar series. We are committed to reaching out to the public by means of collaborating on digital resources and presenting ideas and research in various television programmes. In the last few years the department has developed world-class expertise in digital history. It is home to internationally renowned projects such as the, Observing the Eighties, British Living Standards, and Documenting Louisiana Sugar, 1845-1917. Sussex historians have helped to generate new online archives including Old Bailey Online and The Joseph Hooker Correspondence Project. The world famous Mass Observation Archive, some of which is now digitised, is within walking distance of the department, providing our students with direct access to a unique set of historical sources.

Centre for German-Jewish Studies

German Jewish studies bannerSince its establishment in 1994, the Centre has developed into a major institution for the study of the history, culture and thought of Jews in Central Europe and for the training of a new generation of teachers and researchers in this field.

Based within a dynamic modern university committed to interdisciplinary studies, the Centre contributes distinctively to historical, philosophical and literary scholarship and education. Financial support from a wide range of educational trusts, individual donors and a London-based Support Group greatly enhance its work. The primary aim of the Centre's teaching and research activities is the re-evaluation of how the history of Jews in German-speaking lands is studied. The Centre attracts international scholars who actively contribute to scholarship in German-Jewish studies through teaching and research, focusing on political, social, literary and intellectual German-Jewish history.

Given the location of the Centre, another key objective is to research the history of Jewish refugees and their families to the United Kingdom during and after the Second World War. The Centre also focuses on projects related to the history of anti-Semitism, the Holocaust and its effects on post-war history until today. The Centre's archival collection, located at The Keep, is being developed in accordance with these main themes. There is a particular interest in materials documenting the histories of German-Jewish families since the Enlightenment, including diaries, letters, oral testimony, survival narratives and other biographical sources recording the history of refugees. For more information see the Centre’s website.

Centre for Intellectual History

Intellectual History poster - hobbesThe University of Sussex has long been a flourishing centre of research and teaching in intellectual history. From the foundation of the University in the 1960s, intellectual history has brought together scholars and researchers from the disciplines of History, English, Philosophy, Economics, Classics, Politics, Sociology, and Theology. The task of the Sussex Centre for Intellectual History is to maintain this vital interdisciplinary tradition. The Centre has housed innovative research in the political, social and economic thought of modern and early modern Britain and Europe, encompassing work on liberalism and republicanism, the Enlightenment, the history of rights, the emergence of political economy, religion, revolution, and ideas of empire, race, and gender. The Centre also specialises in the history of science, and maintains a keen interest in the reception and transmission of ideas outside Europe (including China and the United States). Our internationally-respected MA programme in Intellectual History constitutes a vital part of the Centre’s work. We also run a busy programme of events, public lectures and colloquia in intellectual history. For more information see the Centre’s website.

Centre for World Environmental History

The Centre for World Environmental History (CWEH) was a response to specialist courses and research conducted by Sussex faculty for over nine years in tropical and 'Southern' environmental history at, what was then, AFRAS and elsewhere in the University and within the Institute of Development Studies. Sussex University has a long research tradition focussed on environment and development problems in the tropics as well as a close relationship with the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), located on the Sussex campus, which is Britain's leading organisation carrying out research on social and economic processes and problems. Sussex University also has a solid tradition in radical history and the history of material culture and peasant society in the Global South, exemplified in the work of Professor Ranajit Guha and the Subaltern Studies School. CWEH has now raised funds from the Leverhulme Trust, the AHRC and the British Academy, the Canadian Social Science Research Council and for independent projects.

The Centre has a Director, Research Director, Faculty Associates, Visiting Research Fellows and Associates and Doctoral Associates. It has a close collaborative relationship involving frequent staff exchanges with the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India and the CNRS French Institute in the Union Territory of Pondicherry, India. The Centre is currently collaborating with Kew Gardens, The Botanical Survey of India, and JNU on a project on Joseph Hooker and India and with the British Library and the U.K. Met office on a project on historical records and climate change. It is also collaborating on two other projects on plant transfers led by Heather Goodhall and Jodi Frawley at the Institute of Technology, University of Sydney and on a project on Human environment interactions in the Indian Ocean World, 1500-1900 with the University of McGill in Canada. The Centre has raised funds from several organisations including the British Academy, The AHRC, the Leverhulme Trust and The Canadian Social Science Research Council.

CWEH's interdisciplinary perspective on complex issues is exemplified by its doctoral associates. It provides an intellectual home for both Sussex graduates and visiting graduates who are integral to contributing to CWEHs ever expanding areas of research. The multidisciplinary nature of CWEH research faculty means that doctoral students have access to a range of expertise as well as to contribute to it. They also form an active social community, organising workshops and networks. Visiting doctoral associates are also welcome. For more information see the Centre’s website.

The Sussex Humanities Lab

Sussex Humanities Lab - BannerDigital transformation means the objects of humanist study have changed. The Sussex Humanities Labe is designed to develop critiques, methodologies, and tools ensuring this field is fit for the future.

Supported by the University of Sussex to create a substantial research infrastructure, the Lab’s vision is to ensure that information scientists and literary critics; media scholars and designers, social scientists and historians, collaborate to serve the fundamental roles of humanities research – to explore the human condition and the social and material worlds we make. We wish to make the humanities fit for purpose in a digital age. For more information see the Lab's website.

Centre for Life History and Life History Writing

Life history and life writing research uses life story - whether in the form of oral history, personal narrative, autobiography or biography - as a primary source for the study of history and culture.

Life history and life writing research uses life story - whether in the form of oral history, personal narrative, autobiography or biography - as a primary source for the study of history and culture. Life stories capture the relation between the individual and society, the local and the national, the past and present and the public and private experience. Research involves grappling with theories of memory, relationship and self-representation, and with debates about literacy and orality. Many disciplines contribute to the field, including history, sociology, anthropology, literary philosophy, cultural studies and psychology. Life history and life writing researchers present their work in many forms. As well as academic publications, we contribute to radio and television documentaries, auto/biographical drama, reminiscence work, digital and video presentations and exhibitions. Life history and life writing research is, of necessity, concerned with ethics and power relationships, and with the potential for advocacy and empowerment. For more information see the Centre’s website.

Centre for Early Modern and Medieval Studies

Early Modern verticalThe Centre for Early Modern and Medieval Studies (CEMMS) at Sussex is one of the foremost interdisciplinary institutions of its kind in Britain. Our members are distinguished academics from the English, History and Art History, and our research expertise covers the history, literature, art, architecture, science, religion and philosophy of a period ranging from the fourteenth to the eighteenth century. The thriving postgraduate community at CEMMS is drawn from across the country and the world, reflecting our longstanding international reputation.

Sussex offers an ideal environment for the study of medieval and early modern history and culture, and we have excellent links with local archives and libraries. The archives of the East Sussex record office are housed in the Keep, a world-class research facility moments from the Sussex campus, and important holdings of illuminated manuscripts, incunabula and early printed books can be found in the Jubilee library, Brighton. We also enjoy collaborations with a range of partners including the National Trust and Shakespeare’s Globe, London.

The Centre's many strengths are reflected in the large number of events we coordinate: a full programme of visiting speakers, symposia and international conferences, a postgraduate reading group and regular excursions. For those interested in developing their study of the medieval and early modern periods, the Centre is a welcoming, yet challenging, place to study. For more information see the Centre’s website.