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Photo of Dr Timothy Cooper

Dr Timothy Cooper

Senior Lecturer

01326 253760

01326 253760

I am a social historian of modern Britain with particular interests in nature, the environment, and everyday life. My research explores themes of environmental change and environmental disaster and their significance in ordinary everyday contexts. Methodologically it is inspired by 'history from below' and life narrative approaches and seeks to push against the grain of prevailing historigraphical concern with expert political and scientific accounts of 'nature' and the 'environment'.

Instead, I am mostly interested in examining quotidien stories of nature and environmental change. These 'everyday environments' are methodologically challenging to uncover, but reveal powerful commonplace resistances towards the imposition of bureacratised, rationalised understandings of nature, as well as skepticism towards elite 'environmentalisms'. I believe that properly understanding the character of everyday environmental concerns is critical to any attempt to respond to the existential environmental crises of the twenty-first century.


Research interests

I am currently working on a number of projects that each overlap in messy and ill-defined ways. My current core project is an alternative history of marine pollution in modern Britain based on life narratives and oral histories. I am completing an oral history of the Torrey Canyon oil spill of 1967 as well as other pieces of work on pollution on the coastal margins of Britain. One of the attractions to this work is that it enables me to bring the coastal margins of Britain centre stage, and to reveal how the 'peripheral' areas of Britain still mattered politically even after processes of de-industrialisation had done their work. 

I am also writing pieces that have emerged unexpectedly from this work on the practice of animal care in twentieth-century Britain and on the relationship between popular literature and everyday ideas about resources, nature and the environment.

Below is a list of selected recent conference paper which give some sense of how my work is developing:

For more information see:



Research collaborations

Centre for Environmental Arts and Humanities

Research supervision

I am always keen to discuss possible PhD or Master by Research supervisions across the broad field of modern social, cultural and environmental history. I have supervised students on topics ranging from creative writing and the archive to sociological studies of modern Cornish identity.

As a diverse group of scholars in literary and historical studies, the Department of Humanities at the Penryn Campus offers an outstanding interdisciplinary environment for postgraduate students in the humanities.

Research students

  • Annabel Banks, Poetry and the Archive (completed 2016)
  • Richard Harris, Civil Society in Cornwall (completed 2016)
  • Matt Blewett (2018-) Cornwall and Democracy
  • Lena Ferriday (SWWDTP, 2020-) Embodied Exeperience and Landscape in South West England