David Vincent is Professor of Social History in the Department. He was an undergraduate at the University of York and gained a PhD at Sidney Sussex College Cambridge. He became Lecturer in History at Keele University in 1974, leaving as Professor of Social History and Deputy Vice Chancellor in 2003 to take up the post of Pro Vice Chancellor (Strategy and External Affairs) at the OU. He became a full-time member of the History Department in 2010. He is a Visiting Fellow of Kellogg College, Oxford.
He is writing two units for the third-level module on twentieth-century history, A327, Europe 1914-1989. These cover the media in the Second World War, and cold-war cultures. He is also teaches and examines the following courses: AA312 Total War and Social Change: Europe 1914-1955; A200 Exploring History: medieval to modern 1400-1900; A825 MA History.
David Vincent’s research interests cover working-class autobiography, British and European Literacy, and the cultural and political histories of secrecy and privacy. He is the author or editor of fifteen books including, Bread Knowledge and Freedom. A Study of Nineteenth Century Working Class Autobiography (Europa 1979, Methuen 1982);The Autobiography of the Working Class [with John Burnet and David Mayall], 3 vols (Harvester 1984, 1987, 1989); Literacy and Popular Culture. England 1750-1914 (Cambridge University Press 1989, 1993); The Culture of Secrecy: Britain 1832-1998 (Oxford University Press 1998); The Rise of Mass Literacy. Reading and Writing in Modern Europe (Polity Press, 2000). His most recent publications are: Japanese Translation of The Rise of Mass Literacy (Shinyosha, Tokyo, 2011); ‘The end of literacy: the growth and measurement of British public education since the early nineteenth century’, in C.A, Bayly, Michael Woolcock, Simon Szretzer, Vijayendra Rao (eds.), History and development policy (Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2011); ‘Government and the Management of Information 1844-2009’, in Gunn, Simon and Vernon, James (eds.), The Peculiarities of Liberal Modernity in Imperial Britain (Berkeley, University of California Press, 2011).
He is currently completing a book: I hope I don’t intrude. Privacy and its dilemmas since 1800. This explores the origins of modern debates about privacy through the prism of a fictional character, the eponymous hero of Paul Pry, a play first performed in 1825. It examines the interplay between the stage and the consumer culture of the middle decades of the nineteenth century, and the ways in which the themes of the play were embodied in issues including the technology of communication from the post to the telephone, the nature of gossip, blackmail, sensational journalism, political caricatures, official data collection, home visiting and domestic privacy and postal espionage. It concludes with an examination of the historical dimensions of the current controversies surround the fate of privacy in the digital age.
David Vincent is a member of the British and Irish History Research Group.