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Dr Ruth Slatter

Profile summary

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Professional biography

I took up my position as Lecturer in Geography at the Open University in August 2022. Prior to that I was a Lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Hull (2018-2022) and completed my Wolfson Foundation funded PhD at UCL in 2017. I have a MA in History of Design from the Royal College of Art and BA (Hons) in History of Art from the University of Oxford.

Research interests

My research interests lie in material and visual approaches to the geographies of religion, faith, and spirituality. I have published research on participatory approaches to religion, faith, and spirituality; historical experiences of sacred spaces; and the materiality and design of church buildings.

I am currently a Visiting Research Fellow and the Oxford Centre for Methodism and Church History, where I am using their collection to explore how art can provide insights into individuals’ everyday experiences of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Methodism. I am also collaborating with them to develop a programme of public events exploring the intersections of art, faith, and wellbeing.

From 2019-2020, I was Principal Investigator of 'Jumpers, Umbrellas and Plastic Bags: material culture and women's everyday experiences of Methodism since 1945'. This was an 18 month British Academy funded project exploring how material has contributed to women's experiences of Methodism over the past 75 years. Working with the newly formed Methodist Women's collected at Epworth Old Rectory and Methodist Women in Britain, this project has demonstrated how material approaches to religion can provide insights into women's previously overlooked contributions to Methodism and society more generally.

In 2019, I was awarded a Royal Geographical Society Small Grant, which facilitated research into the Pre-Raphaelite and Methodist artist James Smetham.

Impact and engagement

I have regularly collaborated with Methodist communities and Methodist Heritage to develop and disseminate research that explores the ongoing impact of Methodism’s past on its contemporary practices.

I am currently part of a broad group of historians, art historians, and artists developing public resources to celebrate the bicentenary of the birth of James Smetham. This project focuses on the intersections between art, faith, and mental health. In October 2019 I ran the ‘Squaring like Smetham’ session at ArtServe and have contributed to the development of educational material associated with the wider project.

As part of my ‘Jumpers, Umbrellas, and Plastic Bags’ project, I worked with Epworth Old Rectory, contributing to their series of public talks and depositing a series of new interviews in their developing Methodist Women Archive.

While a PhD student I used UCL Train and Engage funding to facilitate a public-heritage project celebrating the bicentenary of the first Methodist church in Stoke Newington.

External collaborations

I am currently collaborating with Oxford Centre for Methodism and Church History to develop a series of events to celebrate the bicentenary of the birth of the Methodist artist James Smetham.


Three Participatory Geographers: Reflections on Positionality And Working With Participants in Researching Religions, Spiritualities, And Faith. Social and Cultural Geography (2022)
Denning, Stephanie; Scriven, Richard and Slatter, Ruth
Social and Cultural Geography, 23(6) (pp. 892-910)

Worship, social gatherings and the ‘more-than-Wesleyan’: the multiple uses and congregational experiences of London’s Wesleyan Methodist chapels (1851-1932) (2021)
Slatter, Ruth
London Journal, 46(2) (pp. 165-186)

Becoming chapels and everyday congregations: how the repair and maintenance of London’s Wesleyan chapels illustrates their communities’ everyday practices and experiences (1851-1932) (2020-02)
Slatter, Ruth
Journal of Design History, 33(1) (pp. 34-49)

Materiality and the extended geographies of religion: the institutional design and everyday experiences of London’s Wesleyan Methodist circuits, 1851 – 1932 (2019-04-07)
Slatter, Ruth
Journal of Historical Geography, 64 (pp. 60-71)

Material 'Becomings' and a Historical Geography of Religious Experience: Metropolitan Methodism, 1851-1932 (2019-03)
Slatter, Ruth
Area, 51(1) (pp. 14-24)

Materialities and Historical Geographies: an introduction (2019-03)
Slatter, Ruth
Area, 51(1) (pp. 2-6)

A ‘More-than-Architectural’ Approach to Faith Spaces: Wesleyan Methodist Spaces in London, 1851-1932 (2015)
Slatter, Ruth
Interiors, 6(3) (pp. 306-328)

The Design of Nineteenth-Century Wesleyan Space: Re-Reading F.J. Jobson’s Chapel and School Architecture (2015)
Slatter, Ruth
Wesley and Methodist Studies, 7(1) (pp. 78-99)

Free from Censure: A Communion Token from the Scots Church London Wall (2011-06)
Slatter, Ruth
Journal of the Antique Metalware Society, 19 (pp. 50-59)