Professor Michael Roper

Department of Sociology and Criminology
Professor Michael Roper
  • Email

  • Telephone

    +44 (0) 1206 873045

  • Location

    5A.317, Colchester Campus

  • Academic support hours

    Thursday 11-12 Room 5A.317



Michael is a cultural and social historian of Britain and Australia whose research centres on personal testimony and the family legacies of war in the twentieth century. He graduated with a BA Hons in History at Melbourne University, and an MA in History at Monash University, before coming to the UK on a Commonwealth Scholarship in 1985 to begin a PhD at Essex. His first book, Masculinity and the British Organization Man since 1945 was published by Oxford in 1994. He is co-editor (with John Tosh) of the collection Manful Assertions. Masculinities in Britain since 1800 (Routledge, 1991) and (with T. G. Ashplant and G. Dawson), The Politics of War Memory and Commemoration (Routledge, 2000). He has published a series of essays in History Workshop Journal, Cultural and Social History and other journals on the historical study of gender, subjectivity and emotions. His 2009 book, The Secret Battle. Emotional Survival in the Great War (Manchester) drew on letters, diaries and memoirs to investigate the relationships between young British civilian soldiers and their mothers. His latest book, Afterlives of War. A descendants’ history (Manchester, 2023), considers the family legacies of the First World War among generations in Australia, Britain and Germany who were born after the conflict. The book includes a case study of the First World War’s afterlife in his family in Australia. The research for Afterlives was supported by the British Academy, a Leverhulme Fellowship and AHRC/HLF funding from the First World War Engagement Centre 'Everyday Lives in War’. During the First World War Centenary Michael and Dr Rachel Duffett worked with the reminiscence arts organisation Age Exchange on family histories and legacies of the First World War. His current research is a history of empathetic listeners and listening in post-war Britain and Australia. The project investigates the emergence of expert listening cultures after 1945 that conceived of listening as a social, ethical and political good, from the non-directive listening techniques of Carl Rogers and their use in Marriage Guidance and other therapeutic organisations during the 1960s, through the rise of feminist and gay rights movements in the 1970s that sought to “give voice”, to reminiscence therapies and reconciliation movements in the 1980s and 90s based on the use of oral testimony. Michael is happy to supervise research students on topics such as trauma and inter-generational transmission; the memory and commemoration of war; subjectivity and emotion in historical study; interviewing and psycho-social methods; histories of oral history and the life-story interview in social science; therapeutic movements after 1945; and the use of psychoanalytic ideas ‘outside the clinic’.


  • BA hons. (Melbourne)

  • MA (Monash)

  • PhD (Essex)

Research and professional activities

Research interests

Subjectivity, testimony and memory

Key words: psycho-social methods
Open to supervise

History of psychonalysis in Britain

Key words: psychoanalysis and war
Open to supervise

Trauma and inter-generational transmission

Key words: trauma theory
Open to supervise

Families and inter-generational relationships

Key words: family history
Open to supervise

Interviews, personal sources and research methods

Key words: personal sources
Open to supervise

War, memory and commemoration

Key words: public memory and private memory
Open to supervise

Current research

Afterlives of the First World War

This research investigates the emotional impact of the First World War on children born in Britain and Australia after the conflict. These generations had no direct experience of the conflict, but their parents and grandparents carried its traces in their minds and on their bodies. The project focuses on three aspects of the war's legacy in relation to children. Firstly, it draws on oral history interviews with the 'second generation', children of First World War soldiers now aged in their late 80s and 90s. Secondly, it investigates how experts in child psychology, psychoanalysis and child guidance perceived the war's effects on children. Thirdly, it traces the war's influence on children's play and toy culture. The project aims to reconstruct, through family life, expert opinion and children's culture, the ways in which the First World War inhabited the lives of the successor generation. 'Afterlives' has received funding from the British Academy and Leverhulme Trust and is linked to the AHRC/HLF First World War Engagement Centre at the University of Hertfordshire, Everyday Lives in War. A video lecture on the research, 'Growing up in the aftermath: Childhood and family relationships between the wars', is available from the British Psychological Society. See also recent articles and journal publications.

Conferences and presentations

The Evidence of Afterlives. Descendant Histories of the Great War

Keynote presentation, Languages, Texts and Society, University of Nottingham, January 2019, Nottingham, United Kingdom, 14/1/2019

Afterlives of the Great War. Descendants in the Cenenary

Keynote presentation, International Society for First World War Historians, Recording, Narrating and Archiving the First World War, Melbourne, July 2018., Melbourne, Australia, 9/7/2018

Little Ruby's hand: young women and caregiving in Britain after the First World War

Keynote presentation, Care After the First World War, Leeds, United Kingdom, 11/4/2018

The bush, the suburbs and the Long Great War: a family history

Keynote presentation, Voices of the Home Fronts, National Archives, September 2016., London, United Kingdom, 10/9/2016

The Long Great War: gender and family legacies

Keynote presentation, Gender, War and Memory in the Anglo-American World, Oxford, United States, 1/10/2015

Family histories and the emotional legacies of the Great War

Keynote presentation, War and Emotions Symposium, Melbourne Museum, Australia, September 2015, Melbourne, Australia, 17/9/2015

Children, Veterans and Domesticity in Britain after the Great War

Keynote presentation, History of Emotions Annual Lecture, Centre for the History of Emotions, London, United Kingdom, 26/11/2014

Concluding Roundtable, 'War. An Emotional History' conference

Keynote presentation, London, United Kingdom, 11/7/2014

'Growing up in the aftermath: Childhood and family relationships between the wars', British Psychological Society conference 'Stories of War, 'November 2014

United Kingdom, 2014

Subjectivities in the aftermath, Monash University, Australia, September 2014

Melbourne, Australia, 2014

'Child Psychology in Britain between the Wars', Georg Eckert Institute, Braunschweig, January 2014

Braunschweig, Germany, 2014

Keynote lecture, Commemorating the Disabled Soldier, Ypres/University of Leuven, November 2013

Leuven, Belgium, 2013

The psychological legacy of World War I for children, Emotions and Violence in 20th Century Europe, Max Planck Institute, Berlin, June 2013

Berlin, Germany, 2013

The Unconscious Work of Social History, Keynote address, Making sense of past emotions: a seminar on the History of Emotions, University of Copenhagen, May 2012

Copenhagen, Denmark, 2012

Wilfred Bion and the Nameless dread of trench warfare, Public Lecture, British Psychoanalytical Society, Applied Section, November 2011

United Kingdom, 2011

Subjectivities in the aftermath: the generation between in Britain, 1920-45, Keynote address, Aftershock: post-traumatic cultures since the First World War, University of Copenhagen, May 2013

Copenhagen, Denmark, 1920

'The Nervous Child and theShell-shocked Soldier: child psychology in the aftermath ofwar, Britain 1920-35',Psychoanalysis in the Age of Totalitarianism conference, September 2012


Teaching and supervision

Current teaching responsibilities

  • Approaches to War, Culture and Society (HR962)

  • The Sociological Imagination (SC111)

  • The Age of Trauma (SC387)

  • PhD Colloquium 3: Disseminating Your Research (SC804)

Previous supervision

Olivia Jane Stiles Arigho
Olivia Jane Stiles Arigho
Thesis title: “We Are the Seed From Which Bolivia Was Born”: Indigenous Politics and the Environmental Question in Highland Bolivia, 1920-1990.
Degree subject: Sociology
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 26/7/2022
David Michael Anthony Larkins
David Michael Anthony Larkins
Thesis title: 'Who Am I' Using Fairbairn's Object Relational Theory to Reconceptualise Experiences of Dementia.
Degree subject: Sociology
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 23/6/2022
Christakis Peristianis
Christakis Peristianis
Thesis title: Legacies of Displacement: The Memories and Meanings of Home Among an Extended Greek Cypriot Family
Degree subject: Sociology
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 24/7/2020
Allan Laurence Hildon
Allan Laurence Hildon
Thesis title: An Existential Biography of Sister Elizabeth Kenny
Degree subject: Sociology
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 2/7/2019
Nicolas Alejandro Ortiz Ruiz
Nicolas Alejandro Ortiz Ruiz
Thesis title: Activism in Transition: Generations and Political Subjectivation in the Chilean Post-Dictatorship Student Movement.
Degree subject: Sociology
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 18/1/2019
Catherine Margaret Hickman
Catherine Margaret Hickman
Thesis title: Bathing and the British Army on the Western Front. a Study of Civilian and Military Influences.
Degree subject: History
Degree type: Master of Philosophy
Awarded date: 17/9/2018
Terry Smyth
Terry Smyth
Thesis title: Roots of Remembrance: Tracing the Memory Practices of the Children of Far East Prisoners of War
Degree subject: Sociology
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 3/7/2017
Ramon Sahib Johnson
Ramon Sahib Johnson
Degree subject: Sociological Research Methods
Degree type: Master of Arts
Awarded date: 7/11/2013


Journal articles (24)

Bar-Haim, S. and Roper, M., In Conversation: Michael Roper speaks to Shaul Bar-Haim. Studies in the Maternal. 4 (2)

Roper, M., (2019). Karl Figlio, Remembering as Reparation: Psychoanalysis and Historical Memory. Psychoanalysis and History. 21 (3), 373-376

Roper, M. and Duffett, R., (2018). Family Legacies in the Centenary. Motives for First World War Commemoration among British and German Descendants. History and Memory. 30 (1), 76-115

Duffett, R. and Roper, M., (2018). Making Histories. The Meeting of German and British Descendants of First World War Veterans in ‘‘No Man’s Land,’’ Bavaria, 2016. The Public Historian. 40 (1), 13-33

Roper, M., (2018). The Bush, the Suburbs and the Long Great War. A Family Memoir. History Workshop Journal. 86 (86), 90-1163

Roper, M., (2017). Private Lives, Public History. Australian Historical Studies. 48 (2), 310-311

Roper, M., (2016). From the Shell-shocked Soldier to the Nervous Child: Psychoanalysis in the Aftermath of the First World War. Psychoanalysis and History. 18 (1), 39-69

Roper, M., (2015). Remembering Leonore Davidoff: Subjectivity inThicker than Water. History Workshop Journal. 80 (1), 329-334

Roper, M., (2014). The Unconscious Work of History. Cultural and Social History. 11 (2), 169-193

Roper, M., (2014). Book Review: Discourses Surrounding British Widows of the First World War by Angela Smith. War in History. 21 (3), 382-384

Roper, M., (2012). The LettersThe ‘Spear Head of an Advance’: Bion's Wartime Letters to Rickman. Psychoanalysis and History. 14 (1), 95-109

Roper, M., (2011). Nostalgia as an emotional experience in the Great War. The Historical Journal. 54 (02), 421-451

ROPER, M., (2011). NOSTALGIA AS AN EMOTIONAL EXPERIENCE IN THE GREAT WAR. The Historical Journal. 54 (2), 421-451

Roper, M., (2010). The Flyer: British Culture and the Royal Air Force, 1939-1945. The English Historical Review. CXXV (514), 778-780

Roper, M., (2007). Between the Psyche and the Social: Masculinity, Subjectivity and the First World War Veteran. Men's Studies Press. 15 (3), 251-270

Roper, M., (2005). Slipping Out of View: Subjectivity and Emotion in Gender History. History Workshop Journal. 59 (1), 57-72

Roper, M., (2005). Between Manliness and Masculinity: The “War Generation” and the Psychology of Fear in Britain, 1914–1950. Journal of British Studies. 44 (2), 343-362

Roper, M., (2005). History on the couch. Essays in history and psychoanalysis.. AUSTRALIAN HISTORICAL STUDIES. 37 (125), 154-156

Roper, M., (2003). Analysing the analysed: transference and counter-transference in the oral history encounter. The Journal of the Oral History Society. 31 (2), 20-32

Roper, M., (2001). Splitting in unsent letters: Writing as a social practice and a psychological activity. Social History. 26 (3), 318-339

Roper, M., (2001). Masculinity and the Biographical Meanings of Management Theory: Lyndall Urwick and the Making of Scientific Management in Inter‐war Britain. Gender, Work & Organization. 8 (2), 182-204

Roper, M., (2000). Re-remembering the Soldier Hero: the Psychic and Social Construction of Memory in Personal Narratives of the Great War. History Workshop Journal. 50 (1), 181-204

ROPER, M., (1990). REVIEWS. History Workshop Journal. 29 (1), 189-190

Roper, M., (1990). RECENT BOOKS ON MASCULINITY: Introduction. History Workshop Journal. 29 (1), 184-186

Books (6)

Roper, M., (2023). Afterlives of War A Descendants' History. Manchester University Press. 152615403X. 9781526154033

(2013). The Politics of War Memory and Commemoration. Routledge

Roper, M., (2010). The Secret Battle: Emotional survival in the great war. Mancherster University Press. 9780719083860

Ashplant, TG., Dawson, G. and Roper, M., (2004). Commemorating War: The Politics of Memory. Transaction Publishers. 9780765808158

Roper, M., (1994). Masculinity and the British Organization Man Since 1945. Oxford University Press (OUP). 978-0198256939

Roper, M. and Tosh, J., (1991). Manful Assertions. Masculinities in Britain since 1800. Routledge. 978-0415053235

Book chapters (9)

Roper, M., (2024). Reflection: Doing gender history and the history of masculinity. In: Men and masculinities in modern Britain: A history for the present. 249- 250

Roper, M., (2020). Little Ruby's Hand. Young women and the emotional experience of caregiving in Britain after the First World War. In: Total War An Emotional History. Editors: Noakes, L., Langhamer, C. and Siebrecht, C., . British Academy. 59- 77. 9780197266663

Roper, M., (2017). Subjectivities in the Aftermath: Children of Disabled Soldiers in Britain After the Great War. In: Psychological Trauma and the Legacies of the First World War. Editors: Crouthamel, J. and Leese, P., . Springer International Publishing. 165- 191. 9783319334752

Ashplant, TG., Dawson, G. and Roper, M., (2017). The politics of war memory and commemoration: Contexts, structures and dynamics. In: Commemorating War: The Politics of Memory. 3- 85

Roper, M., (2013). Psychoanalysis and the Making of History. In: The SAGE Handbook of Historical Theory. SAGE Publications Ltd. 311- 325. 9781412931144

(2013). The politics of war memory and commemoration: contexts, structures and dynamics. In: The Politics of War Memory and Commemoration. Routledge. 17- 100

Roper, M., (2012). Beyond Containing: the First World War and the Psychoanalytic Theories of Wilfred Bion. In: History and Psyche: Culture, Psychoanalysis, and the Past. Editors: Alexander, S. and Taylor, B., . Palgrave Macmillan. 9780230113367

Roper, M., (2004). Maternal relations: moral manliness and emotional survival in letters home during the First World War. In: Masculinities in Politics and War: Gendering Modern History. Editors: Dudink, S., Hagermann, K. and Tosh, J., . Manchester University Press. 295- 315. 978-0719065217

Roper, M., (2004). Oral history. In: The Social Science Encyclopedia. 698- 700

Grants and funding


Everday Lives in War: First World War engagement Centre

Arts And Humanities Research Council


Meeting in No Man's Land: German and British Elders Exchange Family History from the First World War

Arts And Humanities Research Council

Children, play, and the legacies of the Great War in Britain

Leverhulme Trust


Central and Eastern England Regional Centre for Exploring the First World War

Arts And Humanities Research Council


The Generation Between: growing up in the aftermath of war, Britain 1918-1939

The British Academy

+44 (0) 1206 873045


5A.317, Colchester Campus

Academic support hours:

Thursday 11-12 Room 5A.317

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