Dr Briony McDonagh

Dr Briony McDonagh

Director of Doctoral College/Reader in Historical Geography, Energy & Environment Institute

Faculty and Department

  • Doctoral College
  • Doctoral College


Briony McDonagh is Reader in Historical Geography at the University of Hull, where she is also Director of the Doctoral College. Her research interests lie in the green blue humanities. She has published widely on the landscape and environmental change, on histories and cultures of living with water, on women’s histories, and on the historical geographies of enclosure, commons and protest.

Her book, Elite Women and the Agricultural Landscape, 1700–1830 (Routledge, 2017), won the Joan Thirsk Memorial Prize and Women’s History Network Book Prize. She is co-editor of Women and the Land, 1500-1900 (Boydell & Brewer, 2019), Remembering Protest in Britain since 1500 (Palgrave, 2018) and Hull: Culture, History, Place (Liverpool University Press, 2017). She is co-editor of Historical Geography (University of Nebraska Press), editor of the Historical Geography Research Group Monograph series and was 2018-2019 President of the British Science Association’s Geography Section. She is also a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, Royal Historical Society and Higher Education Academy.

She is Director of the Leverhulme Centre for Water Cultures, hosted by the University of Hull's Energy & Environment Institute. The Centre pioneers a new, humanities-led, interdisciplinary and transhistorical research area – the ‘green-blue humanities’ – equipping a new generation of PhD students to take this agenda forward and transform our understanding of humanity's relationships with water in the green-blue regions of the world, past, present and future.

In addition, Briony is Principal Investigator of 'Risky Cities: Living with Water in an Uncertain Future Climate', a 24 month AHRC funded project learning from the past to build climate awareness today and for the future. Working with project partners including the National Youth Theatre, Absolutely Cultured and the Living with Water Partnership, the project develops learning histories for one flood-prone city (Kingston upon Hull, UK) and use arts and heritage interventions to engage diverse communities in building flood resilience.

Briony holds a prestigious Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship (on 'Gendering the Early Modern Commons') and is Co-I on an AHRC/XR Stories Creative Industries project combining disciplinary and industry expertise to virtually recreate a seventeenth-century flood of Hull.

Recent outputs

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Journal Article

Gender, property and succession in the early modern English aristocracy: the case of Martha Janes and her illegitimate children

Worthen, H., McDonagh, B., & Capern, A. (2019). Gender, property and succession in the early modern English aristocracy: the case of Martha Janes and her illegitimate children. Women's History Review, 1-20. https://doi.org/10.1080/09612025.2019.1696414

Landscape, territory and common rights in medieval East Yorkshire

McDonagh, B. (2019). Landscape, territory and common rights in medieval East Yorkshire. Landscape History, 40(2), 77-100. https://doi.org/10.1080/01433768.2020.1676043

Feminist historical geographies: Doing and being

McDonagh, B. (2019). Feminist historical geographies: Doing and being. Gender, Place and Culture, 25(11), 1563-1578. https://doi.org/10.1080/0966369X.2018.1552122

Disobedient Objects: material readings of enclosure protest in sixteenth-century

McDonagh, B. (in press). Disobedient Objects: material readings of enclosure protest in sixteenth-century. Journal of Medieval History,

More than Bricks and Mortar: female property ownership as economic strategy in Mid-Nineteenth Century urban England

Aston, J., Capern, A., & McDonagh, B. (2019). More than Bricks and Mortar: female property ownership as economic strategy in Mid-Nineteenth Century urban England. Urban history, 46(4), 695-721. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0963926819000142







Gendering the commons


The Leverhulme Trust




1 January 2019




Experiencing the landscape: popular geographical imaginations in the English Midlands, 1450-1650


British Academy




1 September 2014



Postgraduate supervision

Briony welcomes enquiries from potential students (PhD and Masters) wishing to work on projects on the following themes (broadly interpreted), in the UK and beyond, in periods c. 1450 onwards:

- Historical geographies of landscape and environmental change, including projects on living with water and flood; country houses, gardens and parks; enclosure, improvement and agricultural change; rural and urban landscapes

- Women histories and historical geographies

- The geographies of protest, resistance and the law (in both historic and contemporary contexts)

- Heritage issues

Completed PhDs

- Helen Bergin, The man, the sea and the ice. Captain William Colbeck's Antarctic story (1898-1904)

- Charlotte Garside, Women in Chancery: an analysis of chancery as a women's court of redress in late 17th-century England

- Kalliopi Kaparounaki, Caring children in Malawi: children's work within families affected by illness and disability

- Sarah Shields, Maid, wife, widow: women's life-course and property ownership, 1550-1800

- Jazmin Scarlett (passed subject to corrections) The development of co-volcanic societies: the reciprocal relationships between the volcano La Soufrière and the society of St. Vincent, Lesser Antilles, 1718-1979

- Lizzie Rogers (passed subject to corrections) Women and the World: Explorers from the Home during the Enlightenment in Britain

Current PhD supervisions

- Helen Manning, Women, property and the law: mapping sexual inequality in the East Riding of Yorkshire, 1708-1974

- Stormm Buxton-Hill, The impact of women on family dynastic ambitions and legal change in England, 1550-1800

- Ruth Quinn, Agricultural heritage of Saltaire

- Catherine Goddard, Heritage interpretation and visitor experience at historic homes in the East Midlands, with a focus on women's history

- Alice Whiteoak, Walking the world: Emotions, place and memory in English court records, 1400-1800

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