Photo of Dr Martha Vandrei

Dr Martha Vandrei

Lecturer (E&R)

01326 371882

01326 371882

I am an historian of British cultural and intellectual history and historical culture from about 1600. I am interested in how people understood and related to the past through scholarship, antiquarianism, drama, poetry, art, and architecture. This is the focus of my first book, Queen Boudica and Historical Culture in Britain: An Image of Truth, which will be published as part of the Past and Present book series by Oxford University Press in summer 2018. I am now in the very early stages of a new research project on the interdisciplinary origins of the history of ideas.

Research interests

I am an historian of ideas and culture in Britain, working across periods which are too often seen in isolation from one another, in particular the early modern and the modern, but also with an eye toward the more distant past. My interest has been specifically in the field of historical culture, or the reception of the past in Britain, ranging from the history of popular history and antiquarianism to the more established field of the history of historiography. I am particularly interested in the historical antecedents of modern ideas; this necessitates taking this longue-durée approach, as well as working across traditional disciplinary boundaries, and acknowledging the interconnectedness of the wide variety of genres, media, and methods that constitute our ideas about the past. In my work, I draw on a variety of source material, including biblical, classical, antiquarian and literary works, as well as theatre, song, imagery, and sculpture. I have recently become interested in philosophy and intellectual history, and in the development of the discipline of the history of ideas in Britain and America.


Research supervision

I am interested in supervising research projects that engage with the history of historiography and historical culture, as well as memory, commemoration, and the reception of the past. However, I would be very open to discussing proposals from students interested in the history of ideas in Britain more broadly, especially regarding intellectual and cultural discourses of knowledge, disciplines, religion, and gender. 

Research students

Leo Shipp, 'The Poets Laureate in the long eighteenth century'. (SWWDTP-funded, first supervisor)


I have been employed as a researcher on a variety of projects outside of academia, including the major film project The People Speak (History Channel, 2009), and Churchill's Other Lives for BBC Radio 4. I have also been employed as a private researcher by members of Samuel Johnson's Literary Club, which has just celebrated its 250th anniversary with the publication of The New Annals of the Club (Modern Art Press, 2014).


I teach first-, second-, and third-year undergraduates, as well as supervise PhD students. My favourite module to teach, aside from my third-year special subject module 'Pasts and Presents' is probably History Foundation. However, I also enjoy supervising independent projects at second and third year. I have been previously nominated for an award for Best Lecturer, and one of my proudest moments was receiving a round of applause from a first-year audience. And that after a lecture on Hegel!

Modules taught


I completed my PhD in 2013 at King's College London. Following appointments as a research assistant at the University of York and on various media projects with the BBC and others, I was appointed to Lecturer at the University of Exeter in 2015.