Dr Amy Tooth Murphy - Lecturer in Oral History
I specialise in queer history and oral history, never happier than when bringing these research and teaching interests together, using oral history to record and analyse the stories of LGBTQ people in their own words. I am passionate about using history to explore and combat inequality and injustice, both historical and in our contemporary world. As such I am deeply invested in the histories of marginalised and oppressed identities and communities. My teaching activities include undergraduate and postgraduate modules on queer histories and queer narratives, and a postgraduate module on oral history (on the MA in Public History, in which I am heavily involved).
My work as an academic is inextricably linked with my identity and my ideology. I am deeply passionate about both my research and teaching, believing that both have a part to play in both our understanding of the past as well as the direction of our future. I am also a public historian and am committed to engaging with communities and the public in collaborative research as well as in the dissemination of research.
I grew up in a politically engaged household, and my path to oral history began there, learning that ‘having a voice’ in society meant the difference between inclusion and exclusion. Later I realised that such platforms are not given freely to the marginalised. They have to be won. I went to school during the days of Section 28 of the Local Government Act (1988), which prohibited the ‘promotion of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship’ in state schools. So, in part I do what I do as an act of reclamation, and of defiance against a political system and an education system that told me that my identity and my life were not as valid as other people’s. For me, oral history is a tool that breaks down barriers and builds communities up. It is a way in which we can speak truth to power. My research and my teaching are political acts. I do what I do because I am an activist and a scholar. Academia enables me to be both these things.
My background is in English Literature and I am interested in narrative and how it shapes our lives and our understanding of the world. I work across disciplinary boundaries, often using literature, along with film and TV, as historical sources.
My research and teaching interests include LGBTQ oral history, lesbian history (with a particular focus on post-war Britain), butch/femme culture and identity, lesbian literature, lesbian pulp fiction, queer narratives, queer domesticity, oral history theory and methodology, memory studies, feminist theory, and queer heritage.
I am most proud of a special issue of Oral History (Vol 48:1, Spring 2020), which I both contributed to and co-edited. This special issue, ‘LGBTQ+ Lives: History, Identity and Belonging’, is the first academic journal issue in the UK dedicated to LGBTQ oral history. It was an enormous pleasure and a privilege to work with my co-editor friends and colleagues, George Severs, Dr Emma Vickers and Professor Chris Wall. My article, ‘Listening In, Listening Out: Intersubjectivity and the Impact of Insider and Outsider Status in Oral History Interviews’ was a long time in the writing, drawing on my experiences of and reflections on two large oral history projects (my thesis project on lesbian life narratives and lesbian literature and the Bethnal Green Memorial Project, on which I was the Project Manager).
I am a Trustee of the Oral History Society, where I am also a member of the LGBTQ Special Interest Group. I am a Founder and Managing Editor of ‘Notches: (re)marks on the history of sexuality’, a peer-reviewed blog which aims to engage academics, activists and the general public in discussion of the history of sexuality.
More information about my research is available via PURE.
Email - Amy.firstname.lastname@example.org
Twitter - @amytoothmurphy
Website - www.notchesblog.com
I have appeared on various TV and radio programmes and podcasts, including the National Trust’s Prejudice and Pride podcast series, hosted by Clare Baldwin (Episode 4: ‘Women’s Intimacy’), Coming Oot: A Fabulous History of Gay Scotland (BBC2) and BBC Radio Surrey. Most recently I have been interviewed for a new Audible series on Queer history.