Professor Robert Shoemaker
M.A., Ph.D. (Stanford) FRHistS
Professor of Eighteenth-Century British History
17th-19th c. British Social and Cultural History; Crime and Punishment; Gender; London; Digital and Public History
+44 (0)114 22 22584 | Jessop West room 1.08
Semester One 2018-19 Office Hours: By Appointment
Robert Shoemaker is Professor of Eighteenth-Century British history. His main interests lie in social and cultural history, particularly urban history, gender history, and the history of crime, justice and punishment, and in the use of digital technologies in historical research. His first book, Prosecution and Punishment: Petty Crime and the Law in London and Rural Middlesex, ca. 1660-1725, (1991) examined the social impact of the prosecution of petty crime in London. A developing interest in gender led him to write Gender in English Society, 1650-1850: The Emergence of Separate Spheres? (1998) and edit a collection, with Mary Vincent, Gender and History in Western Europe (1998). Combining his interests on gender and crime, he subsequently wrote articles on masculinity and violence, public defamation, and public punishments, focusing particularly on eighteenth-century London.
These articles led to the publication of The London Mob: Violence and Disorder in Eighteenth-Century England (Hambledon and London, 2004), which charts the changing nature of public conflict in eighteenth-century London, focusing on street life, litigation, and the press. It documents the decline of the defamatory public insult and public violence; the changing character of duelling; the transformation of popular responses to public punishments such as the pillory; the changing character of popular protest; and the new role played by print in shaping public life.
He is co-director, with Professor Tim Hitchcock at the University of Hertfordshire and Professor Clive Emsley of the Open University, of the Old Bailey Proceedings Online, which created a fully searchable edition of the entire run of published accounts of trials which took place at the Old Bailey from 1674 to 1913, and, with Hitchcock, London Lives, 1690-1800: Crime, Poverty and Social Policy in the Metropolis, a fully searchable edition of 240,000 manuscript records and fifteen datasets which makes it possible to compile biographies of eighteenth-century Londoners.
Since 2010 he has co-directed three further completed projects: Connected Histories (an integrated search facility for interrogating more than twenty major electronic resources in British history, 1500-1800); Locating London's Past, (a mapping facility which allows a wide body of digital resources relating to early modern and eighteenth-century London to be mapped onto a fully GIS compliant version of John Rocque's 1746 map); and Crime in the Community (a project which evaluated use of the Old Bailey Online and implemented a series of new tools and online facilities to allow educationalists and researchers to make more effective use of the site). In January 2011 he and Hitchcock were awarded the Longman-History Today Trustees Award, presented to a person, persons or organisation that has made a major contribution to history, for their work on the Old Bailey and London Lives projects.
He is currently co-director of The Digital Panopticon: The Global Impact of London Punishments, 1780-1925, an AHRC funded 'Digital Transformations' project which will use digital technologies to bring together existing and new genealogical, biometric and criminal justice datasets in order to explore the impact of the different types of penal punishments on the lives of 66,000 people convicted at The Old Bailey between 1780 and 1865.
Centre for Metropolitan History, Institute of Historical Research - Steering Committee
ESRC Peer Review College - Member
London Journal - Editorial Board Member
Royal Historical Society - Fellow
Professor Shoemaker has just completed a book, co-written with Tim Hitchcock, London Lives: Poverty, Crime and the Making of a Modern City, 1690-1800 (Cambridge University Press, 2014), which argues for the importance of plebeian agency in the shaping of modern social policy. This will be published as an e-book, with live links to the primary and secondary sources on which it is based.
His current research examines how knowledge about crime was created in eighteenth-century London. Through analysis of the literature of crime and by examining evidence of its reception in private correspondence and diaries, he is examining how the explosion of print culture shaped public attitudes towards crime. The initial fruits of this work can be seen in his articles on changing representations of highway robbery and the representation of crime and criminal justice in the Old Bailey Proceedings, a chapter on print culture and the creation of public knowledge about crime, and a book of case studies about notorious eighteenth-century criminals he co-wrote with Tim Hitchcock, Tales from the Hanging Court. Future publications will examine Londoners' experiences of crime and criminal justice as recorded in their diaries and correspondence, and the phenomenon of the criminal celebrity.
Building on his previous digital projects, he is current co-director of The Digital Panopticon: The Global Impact of London Punishments, 1780-1925 , an AHRC funded 'Digital Transformations' project which will use digital technologies to bring together existing and new genealogical, biometric and criminal justice datasets in order to explore the impact of the different types of penal punishments on the lives of 66,000 people convicted at The Old Bailey between 1780 and 1865.
Professor Shoemaker's teaching includes a third year document-based module on crime, justice and punishment in eighteenth-century London (special subject) and contributions to MA modules on topics in eighteenth-century English history and the digital humanities. He welcomes postgraduate students interested in any aspect of eighteenth-century English social and cultural history, particularly topics relating to gender, urban history, print culture, crime, justice and punishment, and the digital humanities.
Julie Banham - Dining practices in eighteenth-century Sheffield (completed her dissertation in 2012).
Helen Churcher - The 'Criminal Classes': Public and Official Comprehension of Habitual Offending in England, 1770-1870.
Anna Jenkin - Perceptions of the Murderess in Eighteenth-century London and Paris, 1674-1789.
Nigel Cavanagh (second supervisor) - Industrialising Communities in South Yorkshire, 1650-1850: A Case Study of Elsecar.
Kate Davison (second supervisor) - A Social History of Humour, 1690-1730.
Kristine Tomlinson (second supervisor) - Clerk, Physician, Scribe: A Biography of the Reverend Isaiah Parker MD, 1752-1848.
(with Tim Hitchcock and Jane Winters), Connected Histories, www.connectedhistories.org (2011)
(with Matthew Davies and Tim Hitchcock), Locating London's Past, www.locatinglondon.org (2010)
(with Tim Hitchcock), London Lives, 1690-1800: Crime, Poverty and Social Policy in the Metropolis, www.londonlives.org (2010)
(with Tim Hitchcock and Clive Emsley), The Old Bailey Proceedings Online, 1674-1913, www.oldbaileyonline.org (2003-2008)
‘Representing the Adversary Criminal Trial: Lawyers in the Old Bailey Proceedings, 1770-1800’, in David Lemmings, ed., Courtrooms and the Public Sphere in Britain, 1700-1850 (Ashgate, 2012), pp. 71-91
'Print Culture and the Creation of Public Knowledge about Crime in Eighteenth-Century London', in Crime Prevention, Surveillance and Restorative Justice: Effects of Social Technologies, edited by Paul Knepper, Jonathan Doak and Joanna Shapland (2009)
The Old Bailey Proceedings and the Representation of Crime and Criminal Justice in Eighteenth-Century London', Journal of British Studies 47 (2008), pp. 559-580.
'The Street Robber and the Gentleman Highwayman: Changing Representations and Perceptions of Robbery in London, 1690-1800', Cultural and Social History 3 (2006), pp. 381-405.
'The Taming of the Duel: Masculinity, Honour and Ritual Violence in London, 1660-1800', Historical Journal, (2002)
'Male Honour and the Decline of Public Violence in Eighteenth-Century London', Social History, (2001)
'The Decline of Public Insult in London, 1660-1800', Past and Present, (2000)
In The Media
Current Administrative Duties
Professor Shoemaker is Faculty Director of Research and Innovation (Arts and Humanities) and Deputy Director of the Centre for Criminological Research.
Previous Administrative Duties
Between 2004 and 2008 he was Head of the History Department.