Dr Sarah Kenny

Dr Sarah Kenny

Department of History
Teaching Fellow in Modern British History

Contact details

My research and teaching interests lie primarily in the history of modern Britain, with particular focus on youth culture. My work explores the intersection between the lifestyles and consumption choices of young people and the built environment, considering places such as pubs, nightclubs, and shopping centres. I am currently working on a book about youth culture and leisure in Britain between 1950 and 2000, as well as a new project about histories of youth drinking.

Feedback and office hours

  • Monday 15:00-16:00
  • Tuesday 16:00-17:00


  • PhD (2017), University of Sheffield
  • MA, University of Sheffield
  • BA (Hons)


I began working at the University of Birmingham following the submission of my PhD at the University of Sheffield in 2017. Since joining the History Department I have taught and supervised on a range of topics from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century. My particular expertise is in histories of youth culture, leisure, and gender. I have maintained an active research profile, publishing on politics, youth culture, and oral history. I am currently in the process of developing my first manuscript, focusing on the development and regulation of evening leisure space for young people in post-war Britain. My research utilises space and place as a way of understanding social and cultural change in post-war Britain.


I teach on a range of undergraduate and taught postgraduate courses, including:

  • Sex and Sexualities in the Modern British World, 1880-1980
  • Why We Hate Politics: Social Activism in Contemporary Britain
  • Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now: Britain in the 1980s
  • Where There is Discord: Making Thatcher’s Britain
  • A Holiday from Reality: A History of Drugs and Drug Use in Modern Britain
  • George Orwell, England, and the Modern World
  • Practicing History (Approaches to History)
  • Practicing History B (Approaches to History)
  • Public History
  • Dissertation Supervision


I am primarily a social and cultural historian of youth in post-war Britain, although I have wider interests in drinking studies, urban studies, and local history. My research explores generational changes to the lived experience of young people in post-war Britain, and is particularly focused on youth culture, sexuality, space, and leisure.

I am currently writing my first book, provisionally titled ‘Unspectacular Youth? Evening Leisure Space and Youth Culture in Post-War Britain, c.1950-c.1990’, which explores the development of licensed leisure spaces and youth lifestyles. The monograph will, by discussing youth drinking, alcohol regulation and licensing, lifestyle, the night time economy, behaviour, and sexuality, bring into historical scholarship topics more frequently discussed by sociologists, ethnographers, cultural geographers, and urban studies scholars.

I am also developing my second project, which will focus on the romantic experiences of young people in post-war Britain, charting how this transformed and developed over fifty years of cultural and social change.

I am also involved in the organisation of a range of conferences and seminars. Most recently this includes the co-founding of a research partnership on the theme ‘Rethinking Disruptive Sex’ (https://twitter.com/DisruptiveSex19) with Dr Hannah J Elizabeth at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and a special seminar series in the Department of History on new research in histories of gender and sexuality with Dr Zoë Thomas.



Sarah Kenny, ‘A Radical Project: Youth Culture, Leisure, and Politics in 1980s Sheffield’, Twentieth Century British History (2019). Advanced access, hwz006, https://doi.org/10.1093/tcbh/hwz006.


Sarah Kenny, ‘“Basically You Were Either a Mainstream Sort of Person or You Went to the Leadmill and the Limit”: Understanding Post-War British Youth Culture Through Oral History’ in Moruzi, Kristine, Musgrove, Nell, Pascoe Leahy, Carla (Eds.), Children’s Voices from the Past: New Historical and Interdisciplinary Perspectives (Palgrave, 2019), pp. 233-259.

Book reviews

  • Review of K. Milcoy, When the Girls Come Out to Play: Teenage Working-Class Girls’ Leisure between the Wars (Bloomsbury, 2017), for Twentieth Century British History, September 2018. Available online: https://doi.org/10.1093/tcbh/hwy023
  • Review of C. Wildman, Urban Redevelopment and Modernity in Liverpool and Manchester, 1918-1939 (Bloomsbury, 2018), for Women’s History Review, 28.1 (2019), pp. 180-181.
  • Review of S. Edwards, Youth Movements, Citizenship and the English Countryside: Creating Good Citizens, 1930-1960 (Palgrave, 2017), for Journal of Contemporary History, 54.1 (2019), 209-211.
  • Review of The Subcultures Network, Ripped, Torn, and Cut: Pop, Politics and Punk Fanzines from 1976 (Manchester University Press, 2018), for Contemporary British History, 33.1 (2019), pp. 154-155.