Accessibility statement

Elizabeth Spencer
Lecturer in Eighteenth Century and Public History



BA Hons, MA, PhD (University of York)

Elizabeth is a lecturer, with a particular emphasis on Public History. Before joining the department in September 2018, Elizabeth held short-term research fellowships at The John Rylands
Research Institute and the Folger Shakespeare Library, and she is currently a King’s Summer Fellow on the Georgian Papers Programme.

Elizabeth’s research interests lie in the gender, social, and material history of England, 1680-1830, and in particular on the lives of women. She also has practical and research interests in Public History, including living history and re-enactment, museum display, and period dramas.



Elizabeth’s doctoral thesis explored the description and use of women’s clothing in eighteenth-century England, and she successfully defended it in March 2018. Looking across a range of sources including wills, newspaper advertisements, account books, and court records, this research traced a shared descriptive language across different texts, challenging the ways in which the description of clothing has previously been interpreted by scholars. This has important implications for how we look for evidence of women’s relationships with their possessions, and Elizabeth is interested in further exploring links between this research, the history of emotions, and legal history.

Elizabeth is now working on a postdoctoral project titled ‘Women and Accounting, 1680-1830’, which explores who and what women from across the social hierarchy were accounting for, as well as how, where, and why. In particular, the project draws attention to the importance of intertextuality by showing that women moved information across and between different texts when accounting, including account books, pocket books, bills, receipts, and rough notes and drafts.

In addition to her research into the long eighteenth century, Elizabeth has a number of interests in the area of Public History. Her MA thesis explored living history and re-enactment, and was based on oral interviews conducted with members of military re-enactment groups. She also has experience of the practical side of public engagement having completed a number of internships and placements with museums, heritage institutions, and production companies. Most recently, she completed an internship with Mammoth Screen Productions working on series four of Poldark.



An example of modules taught:

  • HIS00139H Beauty
  • HIS00125I Historical Thinking
  • HIS00128I Historical Fictions and Frictions: Fictionalising the Past


An example of modules taught:

  • HIS00148M Research Training
  • HIS00166M Performing, Playing, & Re-enacting the Long Eighteenth Century

Contact details

Dr Elizabeth Spencer
Lecturer in Eighteenth Century and Public History
Vanbrugh College V/A/224B
Department of History
University of York
YO10 5DD

Tel: Internal 3607, External (01904) 323607


Student hours

Semester 2 2023/4