Picket Line Perspectives

HWJ and HWO editors object to redundancies at Goldsmiths

History Workshop Journal and History Workshop Online editors have today written to Professor Frances Corner OBE, Warden of Goldsmiths, University of London, to urge withdrawal of the threat of redundancy from professional services and academic colleagues in the departments of History and English & Creative Writing.

The full text of the letter and its signatories can be found below.

Dear Professor Corner

We are writing as editors of History Workshop Journal and History Workshop Online to urge you to reconsider the proposed redundancies at Goldsmiths, University of London, and in particular to withdraw the notices of threatened redundancy to our academic and professional services colleagues, especially in History and English and Creative Writing. As editors of a world-leading journal in the discipline, we are well aware of the vital and path-breaking work done in History at Goldsmiths. We are proud to have published important work by several Goldsmiths historians in History Workshop Journal and History Workshop Online. Their careers, and the careers of those who provide essential institutional support for their research, must be nurtured rather than made vulnerable and precarious.

As well as its strengths in research, Goldsmiths is also one of the most innovative History departments in the UK in its approach to teaching. In particular, its ground-breaking and discipline-leading MA degrees in Black British History and Queer History have set an example that historians around the UK and beyond value and respect. The planned redundancies risk either making these important programmes unviable in themselves, or stripping them of the broader context in which they currently sit as well as the invaluable support for students provided by professional service colleagues. Goldsmiths History has also since its foundation served a near uniquely diverse constituency of students who have been underrepresented in the discipline and deserve access to education in History.

While these are challenging times for many universities whose student intakes have decreased as a result of the pandemic, we urge you to take a long-sighted view, valuing and building on what has been established through years of hard work, rather than destroying the vital resources you have and irrevocably damaging your reputation in the process. The population of 18 year olds is about to increase dramatically. The proposed radical cuts to staffing in History and English at Goldsmiths will make it difficult if not impossible for you to offer this rising cohort an education in History and English.

Out of solidarity with our esteemed and valued colleagues, out of respect for current and potential students at Goldsmiths, and out of our understanding of the importance of the disciplines of both History and English, we urge you to reconsider your choices and focus on rebuilding the morale which decisions thus far will inevitably have damaged.

Yours sincerely,

Sally Alexander
Goldsmiths, University of London

Caroline Bressey
University College London

Rosa Campbell
University of Cambridge

Jane Caplan
St Antony’s College, Oxford

Matt Cook
Birkbeck, University of London

Anna Davin

Felix Driver
Royal Holloway, University of London

David Feldman
Birkbeck, University of London

Laura Gowing
King’s College London

Catherine Hall
University College London

Marybeth Hamilton

Katharine Hodgkin
University of East London

Yasmin Khan
Kellogg College, Oxford

Julia Laite
Birkbeck, University of London

Rebecca Mason
University of Glasgow

Diana Paton
University of Edinburgh

Mark Pendleton
University of Sheffield

Kennetta Hammond Perry
De Montfort University

Daniel Pick
Birkbeck, University of London

Alex Potts
University of Michigan

Rob Priest
Royal Holloway University of London

Sadiah Qureshi
University of Birmingham

Elly Robson
Jesus College, University of Cambridge

Lyndal Roper
History Faculty, Oxford University

Jonathan Saha
University of Durham

Bill Schwarz
Queen Mary, University of London

Hannah Skoda
St John’s College, Oxford

Rebecca Spang
Indiana University, Bloomington, UA

Gareth Stedman Jones
Queen Mary, University of London

Anne Summers
Birkbeck, University of London, UK

T.J. Tallie
University of San Diego

Barbara Taylor
Queen Mary, University of London

Becky Taylor
University of East Anglia

Imaobong Umoreen
London School of Economics

Charles West
University of Sheffield

Andrew Whitehead
Honorary Professor, University of Nottingham

Xun Zhou
University of Essex, UK

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