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Owen Emmerson

University of Sussex

Project Title: Childhood and the Emotion of Corporal Punishment in Britain, 1920-2003

Fundamentally I will ask how and why the arguments for and against corporal punishment invoked emotion. Early twentieth century debates foregrounded gendered difference in physical, mental and emotional terms, and called for differentiation between the forms and practices of discipline. I have worked alongside the Mass Observation Project to create a new ‘directive’ (an open ended questionnaire) on this topic, which has been specifically shaped around my research questions. I was also able to repeat, verbatim, the questions asked by the first phase of M-O on this subject during the Second World War. These hitherto unused 1942 directive responses will themselves form a significant part of my evidential base, and will provide an important framework in which to comprehend the life histories garnered through my own survey.

Supervised by Professor Claire Langhamer and Dr Lucy Robinson.

About me

My objective as a historian is to locate and explore emotional experiences in relation to cultural constructions and social relations of gender in contemporary Britain.

Research Interests

My research interests include corporal punishment, homosexuality, childhood, post-war Britain and popular culture.

Find out more about me at:



Twitter @MowenEmmerson