Dr Matthew Grant

Department of History
Dr Matthew Grant
  • Email

  • Telephone

    +44 (0) 1206 872259

  • Location

    5NW.8.5, Colchester Campus

  • Academic support hours

    Spring Term: Monday 2-3; Friday 11-12; (Meeting ID: 928 530 9879)



I became fascinated by history at an early age. Reading at school, watching television, and listening to family stories gave me the sense of the past as a set of stories and narratives to be untangled. The cold war was an obvious area of study for me. I remember watching the Berlin Wall fall on TV (I was 9 years old). As a sports-mad child, I was bewildered as the shifting political landscape was mapped out onto sporting events. West Germany becoming Germany, the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia fragmenting. Through football championships and Olympics, the world was changing in front of me. Now, as a professional historian, I am keen to explore how such massive political and cultural changes are understood by ordinary people. I studied history at Queen Mary, University of London, receiving my PhD in 2006. After this, I spent two years teaching at the University of Sheffield, a year as an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Manchester, before spending three years at Teesside University. I joined the History Department at the University of Essex in September 2013. I am a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and serve on the Peer Review College of the Economic and Social Research Council. During the Summer Term of 2014 I was a Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Chanage (CRESC) at the Open University. My research covers the history of Britain since 1939, focusing on the cultural and political impact of war and conflict on the home front. I have written on cold war civil defence and security, the cultural impact of nuclear weapons, and murder in 1940s Britain. In general, I am interested in the transformation of British life in the mid-to-late twentieth century, and the way historical memory shapes peoples sense of the world. I would love to hear from anyone interested in persuing a research degree. I am currently working on a new book charting the impact of the cold war on concepts and experiences of citizenship, to be calledThe Cold War and the Remaking of British Citizenship. This will examine the changing ways the public interacted with the state in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, in particular the importance of uniformed service, peace activism, and the experience of communism and anti-communism.Along with my colleague, Dr Peter Gurney, I am conducting a oral history project on the experience of National Service in postwar war Britain funded by the Leverhulme Trust.In addition to this research, I have recently copublished an edited collection, with Professor Benjamin Ziemann of the University of Sheffield, on international responses to nuclear conflict:Understanding the Imaginary War(Manchester University Press, 2016).

Research and professional activities

Research interests

British history since 1939

Open to supervise

impact of war and conflict on the home front

Open to supervise

The cold war and nuclear conflict

Open to supervise

Citizenship in Britain

Open to supervise

Conferences and presentations

If War Should Come

Invited presentation, Keynote presentation, Conference, Aalborg Univerisry, Denmark, 5/5/2021

Teaching and supervision

Current teaching responsibilities

  • The Making of the Modern World since 1750 (HR100)

  • Becoming a Historian (HR101)

  • Resisting Empire (HR104)

  • Multicultural Britain: A History (HR205)

  • Approaches to History (HR211)

  • Choosing Your Past: How to Design and Manage a Research Project (HR231)

  • Britain�s Second World War: Mass Observation, Myth and Memory (HR308)

  • History Works: Career Portfolio (HR510)

  • Our Voices, Our Pasts, Our Histories: Oral History in Practice (HR679)

  • Research Project (HR831)

  • Rethinking History: Approaches, Theories and Concepts (HR924)

  • Making History, Sharing History: Sources, Methods, and Audiences for Historical Research (HR935)

  • Archives and Power (HR949)

  • Approaches to War, Culture and Society (HR962)

  • War and Memory: Remembering, Commemorating, and Contesting the Past (HR970)

  • Human Rights: Theories and Applications (HU901)


Journal articles (10)

Grant, M., (2020). The Korean War in Britain: Citizenship, Selfhood and Forgetting. By Grace Huxford. Twentieth Century British History. 31 (3), 417-418

Grant, M., (2019). Making Sense of Nuclear War: Narratives of Voluntary Civil Defence and the Memory of Britain’s Cold War. Social History. 44 (2), 229-254

Grant, M., (2019). David M. Watry. Diplomacy at the Brink: Eisenhower, Churchill, and Eden in the Cold War. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2014. Pp. 228. $29.95 (cloth).. Journal of British Studies. 58 (1), 254-256

Grant, M., (2019). Chris Renwick, Bread for All: The Origins of the Welfare State. Journal of Contemporary History. 54 (1), 211-213

Grant, M., (2018). The Trial of Neville Heath, the Popular Press, and the Construction of the Memory of the Second World War in Britain, 1945–1946. English Historical Review. 133 (564), 1155-1177

Grant, M., (2016). Historicizing Citizenship in Post-War Britain. The Historical Journal. 59 (4), 1187-1206

Grant, M., (2013). Images of Survival, Stories of Destruction: Nuclear War on British Screens from 1945 to the Early 1960s. Journal of British Cinema and Television. 10 (1), 7-26

Grant, M., (2011). 'Civil Defence Gives Meaning to Your Leisure': Citizenship, Participation, and Cultural Change in Cold War Recruitment Propaganda, 1949-54. Twentieth Century British History. 22 (1), 52-78

Grant, M., (2008). Home Defence and the Sandys Defence White Paper, 1957. Journal of Strategic Studies. 31 (6), 925-949

Grant, M., (2003). Historians, the Penguin Specials and the ‘State-of-the-Nation’ Literature, 1958-64. Contemporary British History. 17 (3), 29-54

Books (4)

Grant, M. and Ziemann, B., (2016). Understanding the imaginary war: Culture, thought and nuclear conflict, 1945-90. Manchester University Press. 1784994405. 9781784994402

(2016). Understanding the Imaginary War. Manchester University Press

Grant, M., (2010). After The Bomb: Civil Defence and Nuclear War in Britain, 1945-68. Palgrave Macmillan. 0230274048. 9780230274044

Grant, M., (2009). The British way in cold warfare: Intelligence, diplomacy and the bomb 1945-1975. Continuum. 9781847252296

Book chapters (14)

Cronqvist, M. and Grant, M., (2021). Remembering Desirable Futures? Civil Defence Memories and Everyday Life in Sweden and the UK. In: Cold War Civil Defence in Western Europe: Sociotechnical Imaginaries of Survival and Preparedness. Editors: Cronqvist, M., Farbøl, R. and Sylvest, C., . Palgrave Macmillan. 209- 231. 978-3-030-84280-2

Grant, M., (2016). The imaginative landscape of nuclear war in Britain, 1945-65. In: Understanding the imaginary war: Culture, thought and nuclear conflict, 1945?90. Editors: Grant, M. and Ziemann, B., . Manchester University Press. 92- 115. 978-1-7849-9440-2

Grant, M. and Ziemann, B., (2016). Introduction: The cold war as an imaginary war. In: Understanding the Imaginary War: Culture, Thought and Nuclear Conflict, 1945-90. 1- 29. 9781784994402

Grant, M., (2013). Freiwillige f�r das Atomzeitalter: der britische Zivilschutz zwischen Patriotismus und Freizeit 1949-54. In: Den Kalten Krieg Denken. Beitr�ge zur Sozialen Ideengeschichte seit 1945. Editors: Bernhard, P. and Nehring, H., . Klartext

Grant, M., (2013). Citizenship, Sexual Citizenship, Sexual Anxiety and Womanhood in Second World War Britain: the Case of the Man with the Cleft Chin?. In: Moral panics, social fears and the media: historical perspectives. Editors: Nicholas, S. and O'Malley, T., . Routledge. 177- 190. 9780415501613

Grant, M., (2010). Gradual Decline and Sudden Fall. In: After the Bomb. Palgrave Macmillan UK. 175- 192. 9781349302048

Grant, M., (2010). Separate Spheres of Civil Defence. In: After the Bomb. Palgrave Macmillan UK. 123- 147. 9781349302048

Grant, M., (2010). Protecting the Public. In: After the Bomb. Palgrave Macmillan UK. 58- 76. 9781349302048

Grant, M., (2010). Preparing for a Third World War. In: After the Bomb. Palgrave Macmillan UK. 36- 57. 9781349302048

Grant, M., (2010). Equipoise, Crisis and Reform. In: After the Bomb. Palgrave Macmillan UK. 148- 174. 9781349302048

Grant, M., (2010). Years of Decision. In: After the Bomb. Palgrave Macmillan UK. 99- 122. 9781349302048

Grant, M., (2010). The Hydrogen Bomb Revolution. In: After the Bomb. Palgrave Macmillan UK. 77- 98. 9781349302048

Grant, M., (2009). Civil defence and the nuclear deterrent, 1954-1968: Strategic imperative and political expediency. In: The British way in cold warfare: Intelligence, diplomacy and the bomb 1945-1975. Editors: Grant, M., . Continuum. 51- 68. 9781847252296

Grant, M., (2009). The Cold War and British National interest. In: The British way in cold warfare: Intelligence, diplomacy and the bomb 1945-1975. Editors: Grant, M., . Continuum. 1- 13. 9781847252296

Other (3)

Grant, M., (2017).Jonathan Hogg, British Nuclear Culture: Official and Unofficial Narratives in the Long 20th Century. Journal of Contemporary History. 52(2),SAGE Publications

Grant, M., (2014).The Nuclear Age in Popular Media: A Transnational History, 1945–1965. Social History. 39(4),Informa UK Limited

Grant, M., (2014).The Politics of Expertise: How NGOs Shaped Modern Britain. POLITICAL QUARTERLY. 85(4)

Grants and funding


The Intergenerational Jazz Reminiscence Project

National Jazz Archive


National Service Life Stories: masculinity, class and the memory of conscription in Britain

Leverhulme Trust

+44 (0) 1206 872259


5NW.8.5, Colchester Campus

Academic support hours:

Spring Term: Monday 2-3; Friday 11-12; (Meeting ID: 928 530 9879)