Dr Bob Nicholson

EHU300 Staff Research Portraits BobNicholson002I’m a lecturer in history at Edge Hill University. I work on the history of nineteenth-century Britain and America, with a particular focus on journalism, popular culture, jokes, and transatlantic relations. For the last five years I’ve been exploring representations of the United States, and the circulation of its popular culture, in Victorian newspapers and periodicals. I’m also a keen exponent of the Digital Humanities and like to experiment with the new possibilities offered to both researchers and teachers by digital tools and archives.

I trained at the University of Manchester where I completed a BA in History (2007), MA in Victorian Studies (2008), and an AHRC-funded PhD exploring the role played by newspapers in shaping Victorian ideas about the United States (2012). While finishing my doctoral project I obtained a 6 month lectureship at Swansea University before joining Edge Hill in the summer of 2012.

My research has been published in the Journal of Victorian CultureMedia History, and the Victorian Periodicals Review. I have contributed to publications by the Institute of Historical Research and co-wrote chapters for Annual Bulletin of Historical Literature in 2010 and 2011. I write book reviews for the European Review of History and peer review articles for Media History. Conference organisers have invited me to talk about my work at events in Britain, America, Germany and the Netherlands.

My doctoral thesis was awarded the Gale Dissertation Research Fellowship in 19th-Century Media (2009) in recognition of my innovative use of digital archives, and my essay on the transatlantic circulation of a newspaper joke won the Journal of Victorian Culture’s Graduate Essay Prize in 2011. I’ve written for The Guardian, had my research covered by The Times, and was shortlisted by the BBC and AHRC in their first search for New Generation Thinkers (2011).

At Edge Hill I currently lead undergraduate modules on the histories of journalism and crime. I’m always happy to discuss any undergraduate or postgraduate research proposals, but would be particularly keen to hear from anybody interested in working on nineteenth-century popular culture, press history, or the digital humanities.

You can find me in all the usual places:

Twitter: @DigiVictorian

Academia: http://edgehill.academia.edu/BobNicholson

Edge Hill: http://www.edgehill.ac.uk/profiles/bob-nicholson

E-mail: bob.nicholson@edgehill.ac.uk

Curriculum Vitae


  • 2008-2012: University of Manchester, PhD History (AHRC Funded).
  • 2007-2008: University of Manchester, MA Victorian Studies (AHRC Funded / Distinction).
  • 2004-2007: University of Manchester, BA History (1st Class).


  • 2012-Present. Edge Hill University, Lecturer in History.
  • 2012. Swansea University, Fixed-term Lecturer in History.
  • 2008-2011. University of Manchester, Graduate Teaching Assistant.


  • Winner of the Journal of Victorian Culture’s Graduate Essay Prize (2011)
  • Winner of the inaugural Gale Dissertation Research Fellowship in Nineteenth-Century Media, $1500 (2009)
  • AHRC Funding for MA (2007-2008) and PhD (2008-2011).
  • Prize winner in the University of Manchester’s Junk the Jargon competition (2011)
  • University of Manchester undergraduate prizes: Bradford History Scholarship 2006 (best overall performance), Tout Prize 2007 (best exam performance), Thomas Brown Memorial Prize 2007 (best overall performance).



Articles and Book Chapters

  • The Old World and the New: Negotiating Past, Present, and Future in Anglo-American Humour, 1880-1900?, in Barbara Korte and Doris Lechner (eds.), History and Humour: British and American Perspectives, (Bielefeld: Transcript, 2013), pp. 151-170. [link]
  • ‘The Digital Turn: Exploring the Methodological Possibilities of Digital Newspaper Archives’, Media History, 19:1 (2013), pp. 59-73. [link]
  • ‘‘You Kick the Bucket; We Do the Rest!’ Jokes and the Culture of Reprinting in the Transatlantic Press’, Journal of Victorian Culture, 17:3, (2012), pp. 273-286. [link]
  • ‘Counting Culture; or, how to read Victorian newspapers from a distance, Journal of Victorian Culture,17:2, (2012), pp. 238-246. [link]
  • ‘Digital Detectives: bridging the gap between the archive and the classroom’. Victorian Periodicals Review, 45:2, (2012), pp. 215-223. [link]
  • ‘Jonathan’s Jokes: American Humour in the late-Victorian Press,’ Media History, 18:1, (2012), pp. 33-49. [link]


  • Leah Price’s ‘How to Do Thing with Books in Victorian Britain’, European Review of History, 20:4, (2013), pp. 718-720. [link]
  • Lisa Peters’ ‘ Politics, Publishing and Personalities: Wrexham Newspapers, 1848-1914’, North American Journal of Welsh Studies, 8 (2013). [link]
  • Troy Bickham’s ‘Making Headlines: The American Revolution as Seen Through the British Press’, European Review of History, 17:4, (2010), pp. 688-691. [link]

Other Publications

  • ‘Racy Yankee slang has long invaded our language’, The Guardian, 8 October 2010. [link]
  • ‘Nineteenth Century’, Annual Bulletin of Historical Literature, 94 (2010). Co-authored with Lucinda Matthews-Jones and Vicky Morrisroe. [link]
  • ‘Nineteenth Century’, Annual Bulletin of Historical Literature, 95 (2011). Co-authored with Lucinda Matthews-Jones. [link]
  • ‘American Humour’, in Laurel Brake & Marysa Demoor (eds.), Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century Journalism [online edition], 2010.

Selected Conference Papers

  • ‘Looming Large: America and the Victorian Press’, CAMRI Seminar, University of Westminster, 4 Dec 2013.
  • ‘The American Future: Negotiating Modernity in the Transatlantic Press’, Tradition and the New: Annual Conference of the Research Society for Victorian Periodicals, Salford University, 12-13 July 2013.
  • ‘Breaking Boundaries: Digitisation and the Future of the Past’, Race, Nation and Empire on the Victorian Stage, Lancaster, 11-14 July 2012.
  • ‘The Laughter of Good Fellowship? Negotiating the past, present and future in Anglo-American Humour, 1870-1900’, History and Humour – 1800 to Present, University of Freiburg, 6-7 July 2012.
  • ‘“Goodbye, old fellow, I must skedaddle!”: American Slang and the Victorian Popular Press’, 5th Annual British Scholar Conference, University of Edinburgh, 21-23 June 2012.
  • ‘Imagining America: W. T. Stead’s Vision of the New World’. W. T. Stead: Centenary Conference for a Newspaper Revolutionary, British Library, 16-17 April 2012.
  • ‘“Goodbye, old fellow, I must skedaddle!”: Reading the American Voice in the late-Victorian Press’, London Nineteenth-Century Studies Seminar, Institute of English Studies, 17 March 2012.
  • ‘The Journey of a Joke: composing and recomposing humour in the transatlantic popular press’. British Association for Victorian Studies Annual Conference: Composition and Decomposition, University of Birmingham, 1-3 September 2011.
  • ‘Digital Detectives: bridging the gap between the archive and the classroom’ [roundtable on ‘Digitisation in learning and teaching’]. Research Society for Victorian Periodicals 43rd Annual Conference: Work and Leisure, Canterbury Christ Church University, 22-23 July 2011.
  • ‘The Journey of a Joke: cultural transfer in the transatlantic popular press’.Methodological and Theoretical Challenges in Transnational Studies, University of Manchester, 14 June 2011.
  • ‘The Journey of a Joke: uncovering a transatlantic knowledge network’. Knowledge Networks: Nineteenth Century American Periodicals, Print Cultures and Communities. University of Nottingham, 27 May 2011.
  • ‘New World, New Journalism: Tracking America in the late-Victorian popular press’. Joint Journalism Historians Conference. City University of New York, 12 March 2011.
  • ‘Cultural History 2.0: Unlocking the Methodological Possibilities of Digital Newspaper Archives’. Exploring Digital Newspaper Archives. University of Sheffield, 14 January 2011.
  • ‘The Newest Thing in Slang’: Americanisms and the Victorian Popular Press. Novelties. University of York, 27 November 2010.
  • ‘Yankee Humour’: Selling ‘America’ in the late-Victorian Joke Column. Popular Fictions: Selling Culture? Liverpool John Moores University, 20-21st November 2010.
  • The Digital Turn: exploring the methodological potential of digital newspaper archives. Journalism and History: Dialogues. University of Sheffield, 15 September 2010.
  • ‘The Newest Thing in Slang’: Tracking Americanisms in the Digitised Victorian Press. The Material Culture of Periodicals. Yale University, 10-11 September 2010.
  • ‘The Newest Thing in Slang: Americanisms and the Victorian Popular Press’. North-West Long Nineteenth Century Seminar Series. The Portico Library, 7 July 2010. [public]
  • “Jonathan’s Jokes:” American Humour and the Victorian Popular Press. Culture and Society in Modern Britain and Europe Seminar Series. University of Oxford, 1st February, 2010.
  • “Jonathan’s Jokes:” American Humour Columns and the Digitisation of the Victorian Press. Margins of Print: Ephemera, Print Culture, and Lost Histories of the Newspaper. University of Nottingham, 15th January 2010.
  • ‘“A Wondrous Modern Combination of Babylon and Babel”: Chicago, Modernity, and the Press in fin-de-siècle Britain.’ Perspectives on the Past, University of Manchester, 26-27 March, 2009.
  • ‘Yankee Vignettes’: Late-Victorian newspapers and the popular fantasy of America, 1870-1900. Who Are the Victorians? Constructions of Identity in the Nineteenth Century. University of Leeds, 6th September 2008.