Professor Kate Fisher



Extension: 3293

Telephone: 01392 723293

I am a social and cultural historian, and I am especially interested in supervising students in the following areas:

  • History of Sex and Sexuality
  • Oral History
  • Medical Humanities
  • Uses of the Past, Reception and Historiography

My research focuses on the history of sexuality in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

My first book, Birth Control, Sex and Marriage in Britain, 1918-1960, won the Royal Historical Society’s Whitfield Prize in 2007 and my second book, co-written with Professor Simon Szreter of the University of Cambridge, Sex Before the Sexual Revolution, was named Guardian Book of the Week in 2011. You can hear me discuss the book on Radio Four’s Thinking Allowed.


Since 2006, I have been working with Professor Rebecca Langlands on the Sexual Knowledge, Sexual History Project which explores issues such as why and how people throughout history have turned to the past in order to make sense of sexual experience, what kinds of authority the past has exercised in popular and scholarly debates about sexual practices, identities, civilization and morality, and how changing interpretations of past sexualities reflect historical shifts in the way sex is understood. Visit the project webpages.


In 2015 Rebecca and I launched the Sexual Knowledge Unit, together with Drs Jana Funke and Jen Grove, to bring together scholars from across the humanities, social sciences and biomedical sciences who are engaged in research about sex, gender and sexuality and who investigate the construction and authorisation of sexual knowledge. You can find out more on the project website

As part of this unit, I am involved in a number of major projects.

1.      I co-direct, with Dr Jana Funke, Rethinking Sexology, a Wellcome Trust funded project which seeks to explore the cross-disciplinary exchange between medical and non-medical forms of knowledge at the heart of early sexual science. You can find out more on the project website.

2.      I l co-direct the Bodies, Knowledge and Identities subtheme as part of the College of Humanities' Medical Humanities Theme with Professor Rebecca Langlands and Dr Jana Funke. We are exploring Medical Humanities frameworks to address challenges around the medicalisation of sex, the understanding and treatment of transgender in clinical and non-clinical settings and the development of sex therapies. We are working with researchers in the Humanities, Social and Health Sciences to explore present-day challenges in this field.

3.      With Professor Rebecca Langlands I direct Sex and History, an award-winning and innovative approach to improving young people’s well-being and sexual health which uses objects from past cultures as a stimulus for discussing sex and relationships. The Sex and History Project has received positive media attention, it won an award for Outstanding Social and Cultural Impact at the Exeter University Impact Awards (2011) and was put forward for an EngageU award for European innovation in university public engagement.Visit the project webpages.  

4.      With Professor Rebecca Langlands I direct HOLD, a Plymouth-based community museum/art gallery project in collaboration with Effervescent (a dynamic arts company). Visit the project web pages