Dr Aaron Ackerley

Department of History

Teaching assistant


Thesis: Economic Ideas in the Interwar British Daily Press.

My thesis is an exploration of economic ideas in the British interwar daily press, focusing on four titles: The Times, the Manchester Guardian, the Daily Mail and the Daily Express. The contention that knowledge is power is examined by analysing the specific ways in which ideas were created, reformulated, and transmitted by journalists. The interwar period was a time of economic turmoil and political dislocation, with a large variety of economic understandings and policies vying for attention. New ideas and those that had emerged from the pre-war reconfiguration of British politics challenged orthodox thinking. The press was the dominant mode of communication at this important juncture.

I'm taking an innovative approach with the newspapers being foregrounded as the central site of research. The surviving internal archives of the newspapers and a wide range of primary source material such as private papers, memoirs, biographies and official newspaper histories are used to reconstruct the day-to-day working practices of the newsrooms, helping provide important context for an analysis of the economic ideas that they published, accessed through digitised collections of the newspapers. This allows the actual functioning of editorial control to be assessed and reveals the importance of recognising the division of responsibilities within newspapers. The different types of content featured in the newspapers which contained economic ideas are surveyed, while the salience of their forms and conventions is explained. The specific journalists and departments responsible for creating the content are identified, and the personal, professional and political relationships which structured and informed their work are delineated. These considerations are then used to investigate two case studies: Free Trade versus Protectionism and The Gold Standard and ‘Sound Money’. Newspapers emerge as highly complex sites, with multiple lines of authority and with unique internal dynamics.

  • PhD History, University of Sheffield, 2020
  • MA Twentieth Century History (Distinction), University of Liverpool, 2013
  • BA (Hons) Modern History and Politics (First Class), University of Liverpool, 2012


  • 2020 Royal Historical Society Grant
  • 2020 Kipling Society Grant
  • 2019 Max Weber Stiftung Grant
  • 2018 Stanford University – Hoover Institution Political Economy Fellowship
  • 2013-2016 University of Sheffield – Wolfson Foundation PhD Scholarship in the Humanities
  • 2012-2013 University of Liverpool – AHRC Block Grant Research Masters Studentship
  • 2012 University of Liverpool – Mark Almeras Thomson Prize for highest dissertation mark
  • 2011 University of Liverpool – Gibson Sinclair University Undergraduate Scholarship
Teaching activities

University of Sheffield Teaching Assistant 2020-21 academic year: 

  • HST112 Paths from Antiquity to Modernity
  • HST117 The Making of the Twentieth Century
  • HST120 History Workshop

University of Sheffield Module Leader previous years:

  • HST674 International Relations and the Early Cold War in Britain 

University of Sheffield Teaching Assistant previous years: 

  • HST119 The Transformation of the United Kingdom, 1800 to the present
  • HST202 Historians and History
Professional activities and memberships
  • Assistant Editor of History Matters, the University of Sheffield History Department blog
  • Editorial Assistant for: M. Conboy, A. Bingham (eds), The Edinburgh History of the British and Irish Press: 3: Competition and Disruption, 1900-2017 (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, November 2019)
  • Editor of Issue 7 of the Sheffield Humanities Postgraduate journal Track Changes
Publications and conferences

Journal articles:

  • ‘Radical and/or Respectable Revisited: Coverage of Radical Politics in The Times and the Manchester Guardian in Inter-war Britain’, Radical History Review (Forthcoming October 2021)
  • 'The Case for High Wages’, History Today, 69.9 (September 2019), pp. 22-24

Book chapters:

  • ‘The Political Economy of the Guardian’, in D. Freedman (ed.), Capitalism’s Conscience: 200 Years of the Guardian (London: Pluto Press, forthcoming May 2021)
  • ‘Professional Identity’, in M. Conboy, A. Bingham (eds), The Edinburgh History of the British and Irish Press: 3: Competition and Disruption, 1900-2017 (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, November 2020)
  • ‘Free Speech and the British Press: From Popular Culture to Culture War’, in C.L. Riley (ed.), The Free Speech Wars (Manchester: Manchester University Press, November 2020)

Conference and seminar papers:

  • 'The Early Twentieth-Century British Press, Mass Culture, and Feminine Identities: A Means of Emancipation, or Control?', Feminism in the Media/Feminism and the Media in the 20th Century, First Meeting of the International Standing Working Group on Medialization and Empowerment, German Historical Institute (London, November, 2019)
  • 'The Media Strategy of the Empire Crusade, 1929-1932', The Press and Divided Societies, Newspaper and Periodical History Forum of Ireland Annual Conference, Queen's University Belfast (November 2019)
  • ‘The Media Strategy of the Empire Crusade, 1929-1932’, Communication, Media and Journalism Conference, University of Sheffield (April 2019)
  • ‘“Firmness, But Wisdom: Union, But Peace!” – Radical Reaction in Nottingham to the Year of Revolution, 1848’, The Politics of Sedition in Long Nineteenth Century Britain, University of Warwick (November 2018)
  • Hoover Library & Archives Workshop on Political Economy, the Hoover Institution (Stanford, June 2018)
  • The Media Strategy of the Empire Crusade, 1929-1932', International Association For Media And Communication Research Annual Conference, University of Oregon (Eugene, June 2018)
  • ‘John Citizen, the ‘Little Man’ and the Creation of a Trope: The Man in the Street vs Taxation’, The Role and the Self Image of the Satirist in the 21st Century Symposium (London, June 2018)
  • '"But I have not even tried to read Keynes, so do not pretend to understand…": The Manchester Guardian’s Coverage of Economic Issues in the Interwar Period', The Guardian in Local, National and Global History Conference (Manchester, April 2017)
  • '"It is a battle of party politics against a great ideal": The Empire Crusade as Popular Movement', Social History Society Conference (London, April 2017)
  • ‘"Power Without Responsibility"? …Or Power Without Realising?: The Empire Crusade Campaign, Press Power and the Making of a Modern Myth', Myth vs. Reality Conference, University of Southampton (Southampton, March 2017)
  • 'The Empire Free Trade Movement: A Manufactured Community?’, Concepts of Community Conference, University of Sheffield (Sheffield, March 2016)
  • ‘The Manchester Guardian under C.P. Scott and W.P. Crozier: Handling Economic and Social Issues’, Communities of Communication Conference, University of Sheffield (Sheffield, September 2014)

Book reviews:

  • International Organizations and the Media in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, edited by Jonas Brendebach, Martin Herzer, Heidi J.S. Tworek, H-Net (February 2020)
  • Historic Newspapers in the Digital Age: ‘Search All About It!’, by Paul Gooding, Media History, 25.2 (2019), pp. 261-64
  • Managing the Economy, Managing the People, by Jim Tomlinson, Reviews in History (February 2019)Unemployment and the State in Britain: The Means Test and Protest in 1930s South Wales and North–East England, by Stephanie Ward, Twentieth Century British History, 26.2 (2015), pp. 329-31

Blog posts:

Contributions to History Matters, the University of Sheffield History Department’s blog