Dr W. Jack Rhoden

Programme Leader in Undergraduate History


I am a historian from Lancashire but crossed the Pennines over 15 years ago. I gained my PhD at the University of Sheffield for my study of ‘Caricatural representations of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, 1848-1871’. I then completed a post-doc based at Chatsworth House before lecturing at the University of Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam and Cardiff University.

I am interested in all things nineteenth century, especially French and British political culture, political cartoons, book collecting and more recently the institutional history of Bishop Grosseteste.

Related courses:

In my role I am responsible for designing and delivering a number of undergraduate and postgraduate modules, which in any given year can include a number of the following:

  • History of Identity: Sexuality, Class, Race and Gender
  • British Libraries, Museums and Archives: A History of Collecting, 1600-2000
  • At War with Itself: the United States from Civil Rights to Vietnam
  • Creative Destruction: The Atlantic World in the 17th and 18th Centuries
  • The Sun Never Set and the Blood Never Dried: The British Empire in the Long 19th Century
  • Special Subject: The French Revolution: liberty, terror, warfare and the origins of modernity
  • Society and Culture in the Past: Theories, debates and discourse
  • ‘In need of a tonic?’ Examining the state of the nation at the Great Exhibition and the Festival of Britain

I also act as supervisor for undergraduate and MA dissertations that fall within my fields of expertise.

My particular specialism is the field of mid-19th century France, in particular the period of the Second Republic and Empire (1848-1870) and the figure of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte (Napoleon III). My interest in this topic is largely focused on political and cultural history with my PhD thesis (2012) focusing on French political caricatures of Louis-Napoleon.

Since completing my PhD at the University of Sheffield, I have developed complementary research interests in mid-19th century Britain, examining debates on democracy, representation and liberal government in Britain and France and their impact on Anglo-French relations. I am currently researching debates around populism and dictatorship during this time from and English and French perspective.

I had the fortune to undertake a post-doctoral research position based at Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, wherein I completed an analysis of the research potential of its historic library collections. Arising from this work I have developed an interest in historic book collections, literary networks and book collecting in during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

In recent years I have been fortunate to work with the archives of Bishop Grosseteste University and supervised several excellent MA theses that sought to examine the lives of former students and the 19th century history of what was Lincoln Diocesan Training College. Several strands of this research are ongoing and I am keen to bring this history more firmly into the public arena.

Peer-reviewed publications

  • ‘The Paradoxes of Republican Masculinity: French Political Caricature, 1866-1870’, in Ingrid Hanson, Wilfred Jack Rhoden and E. E. Snyder, (eds.) Poetry, Politics and Pictures: Culture and Identity in Europe, 1840-1914 (Peter Lang, 2013), pp. 119-150. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3726/978-3-0353-0504-3
  • W. Jack Rhoden, 'The Genealogy of a Book Collection: An Early History of the Cavendish Family’s Book Collection, 1599-1811', Midland History, Volume 45, Issue 3 (2020), pp. 309-325. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/0047729X.2020.1814635

Online articles

  • ‘Artefacts, Not History’, Social History Society (15 July 2020) - https://socialhistory.org.uk/s...
  • 'Learning the Lessons of Waterloo', History Matters. University of Sheffield History blog site (6 July 2015) - www.historymatters.group.shef.ac.uk/learning-lessons-waterloo/
  • 'Under cover: The Chatsworth Library Project'. A series of blog entries on the Chatsworth website (Dec 2012-July 2013) - https://www.chatsworth.org/new...
  • 'French caricatures of the Franco-Prussian War and Commune at the British Library', French Studies Library Group: Annual Review, Issue 6 (2009-10) - https://frenchstudieslibrarygr...

  • BGU UCU Branch Chair
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • City of Lincoln Historical Association Branch (member)
  • Membership and Communications Secretary for the Society for the Study of French History (SSFH)
  • British Association for Victorian Studies (BAVS), Annual conference committee member (2017)
  • Assistant to the Book Review Editor of French History (2011-2013)


  • BGU Student Led Teaching Award – Outstanding Supervisor (2019)


  • Bibliographical Society Award (2013)
  • Scouloudi Historical Award (2013)
  • Society for the Study of French History: Research Grant (2009)
  • PhD funded by the British Library Concordat Scheme (2008-2011)

  • Being Human Festival (August 2018): BGU lead on the theme of: ‘A pioneering place full of pioneering women’: Exploring the history of Bishop Grosseteste University
  • 'The whole world in his hands: The collection mania of the Sixth Duke of Devonshire.' Paper presented to the Historical Association, City of Lincoln Branch (June 2017)
  • 'Bringing it all back home: A history of the Chatsworth library.’ Paper presented to the Historical Association, Sheffield Branch (December 2013)

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