Introducing the GENDER.ED Steering Group – Harriet Cornell

Harriet Cornell

This post is part of a series of short profiles of GENDER.ED Steering Group members, on the occasion of the launch of our new website.

Dr Harriet Cornell is the Political Settlements Research Programme Manager and a Carnegie Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the School of History, Classics, and Archeology.

The research programme that she manages (PSRP) has a whole gender theme to its work, and they have recently launched their PeaceFem App in collaboration with UN Women – a culmination of years of work that fills her with great pride for their researchers. They also have a series of podcasts and webinars planned that will showcase ways into their gender work, which she is very excited about.

Harriet trained as a historian, and her PhD considered both gender and sexuality in the seventeenth century. She was motivated to research ordinary folk – both men and women – and their ordinary lives in her thesis because they had for so long been invisible in the world we learn about in school, and go on to read about, research and work on at University. And this remains the case today, particularly when you consider the intersectionalities of gender with race, colonialism, and history more widely.

Harriet’s previous role with the Global Justice Academy highlighted both the importance of interdisciplinarity across the University, but also the challenges involved in fostering that meaningful collaboration between Schools – in teaching in particular. Unlike other institutions, Edinburgh does not have a gender studies centre or institute, and yet gender and sexualities research is vibrant across Schools, so the opportunity to be involved in GENDER.ED was hugely exciting.

Harriet’s recommendations for students curious about the study of gender and sexualities:

  • The work of social historians Leah Leneman and Rosalind Mitchison to expose the everyday lives of early modern Scottish women and the social control they faced – this informed my own work immensely and led me towards doing research on patriarchy, which I am still working on.
  • A Mighty Girl on social media, as an everyday motivation to strive to be a strident feminist (as described by Caitlin Moran – also a recommendation).
  • Holly McNish’s poetry: everyday sexism and discrimination, direct and hard-hitting in its simplicity.
  • The work of Bryan Stevenson and the Equal Justice Initiative to highlight historic discrimination, including around gender and race and the legacy of empire and slavery, in the US.