Skip to main content

Deborah Simonton

Deborah Simonton
Associate Professor Emerita of British History, University of Southern Denmark, Visiting Professor in Cultural History, University of Turku, Finland and Fellow Royal Historical Society. Distinguished Visiting Scholar and Professor, Utah State University, Spring 2016.

Deborah Simonton
Dr Simonton leads the Network on Gender in the European Town Network (, and her international reputation has led to invitations to act as an international expert reviewer for research grants, to act as a keynote speaker and join panels on a range of topics. She has published widely and has been commissioned to contribute to landmark publications. Having taught sociology, cultural history, language, politics and history, she brings an interdisciplinary approach to her research.

She is mainly interested in eighteenth-century issues of women and gender. Her central focus is on education and the economy, which led her to study apprenticeship and which has ultimately led to the work she currently doing on gender in the European town. She studies the gendered and power relations articulated in the shifting economic structures of corporate towns in the context of commercial and polite culture. She is interested in the language of skill, which drew heavily on the masculine traditions of urban guilds and apprenticeship, and she has explored how the urban community was masculinised, how women utilised a range of strategies to either conform or circumvent urban regulation; and how commercial trading shaped the ways that men and women established themselves in urban culture. She interested in understanding how women (and girls) negotiate their places and identities in the largely patriarchal society of the eighteenth century, what ‘materials’ and devices they used and how they circumvented restrictions, such as guild and corporation records. She has recently moved toward thinking about the physical and metaphorical spaces they occupied and how they positioned themselves within them. She believes the network on Gender in the European Town, and the discussions and shared research of colleagues from across Europe has been one of the most interesting and stimulating experiences of her ‘historical’ life.

She also has an overview of the period 1700-2000, having published A History of European Women’s Work in Europe since 1700 (Routledge, 1998), edited the Routledge History of Women in Europe (2006), and Women in European Culture and Society, Gender, Skill and Identity since 1700 (Routledge 2010) and a companion sourcebook. Her primary research is on the gendered character of 18th century towns and the ways that men and women shaped their identities and inserted themselves into the urban economy. She recently published with Anne Montenach, Female Agency in the Urban Economy, Gender in European Towns: 1640-1830 (Routledge, 2013) and with Anne Montenach and Marjo Kaartinen, Luxury and Gender in the Modern Urban Economy: A European Perspective, c.1700–1914 (Routledge 2014), with further books in progress.


Last Updated 16.08.2016