Dr Gemma Clark
Senior Lecturer in British/Irish History
Office: Amory 131
I'm a historian of Modern Britain and Ireland, with particular research and teaching interests in violence. My first book, Everyday Violence in the Irish Civil War (Cambridge University Press, 2014), examines the conflict (1922–23) over the Anglo-Irish Treaty. I'm also writing a history of arson in Ireland since c.1800, which traces the development of criminal fire setting as a social and political protest tool, and contextualises Ireland's apparent propensity for non-lethal property damage over other forms of (interpersonal) violence.
I've held the role of Admissions Officer for the History department since January 2020.
My research focuses on violence and conflict in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Britiain and Ireland. I study encounters not only between military/paramilitary forces, but also civilians, in times of war and of relative peace. I'm concerned with the (strategic, political, social, other) functions of aggression in various contexts, and placing Irish violence in comparative-international perspectives; I also focus on the human experience of harmful acts.
My first book, Everyday Violence in the Irish Civil War (Cambridge University Press, 2014), examines the conflict (1922–23) over the Anglo-Irish Treaty. I've developed further my understanding of gender and violence, in the context of internal war, by writing an article on gender-based violence in global perspective (Irish Historical Studies, vol. 44, no. 165 (2020), pp 75–90).
I'm also working with Cambridge University Press on a new book project. Arson in Ireland: Fire as Protest since 1800 will trace the development of criminal fire setting as a social and political protest tool, and contextualise Ireland's apparent propensity for non-lethal property damage over other forms of (interpersonal) violence. My research on usages of arson in pre-Famine rural Ireland was published in 2017, in Kyle Hughes and Donald M. MacRaild (eds.), Crime, violence, and the Irish in the nineteenth century (Liverpool University Press). In 2020, I received a BA-Leverhulme Small Reserach Grant, 'Exporting Arson: Incendiarism as Protest in the Global Irish Diaspora', to extend the reach of my work on fire and test out methodologies for writing its global history in the future.
I'm a core participant in the Leverhulme-funded research network, Understanding Insurgencies; our collective output, an Oxford Handbook, is forthcoming in 2023.
I am open to discussing research proposals on any relevant subject given my research expertise in Modern British and Irish History, and violence and civil war. I am especially happy to consider working with candidates with interests in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Ireland (especially the Revolutionary period, 1912-23).
External impact and engagement
I contribute to Widening Participation by teaching on the Exeter Progression programme and other events for school students and sixth-formers.
In 2019, I consulted for the 'Never Such Innocence' charity, contributing to their free educational resources on the Irish War of Independence.
Contribution to discipline
I'm a member of the British Association of Irish Studies.
In print and online
Gemma Clark, 'Settling scores: everyday violence during the Civil War', RTE (28 Sept. 2022)
Gemma Clark, 'A two-minute guide to everyday violence in the Civil War', RTE (27 Sept. 2022)
Podcast: 'Michael Collins: Man and myth', History Ireland (22 August 2022)
Civil War Podcast Series, Irish Examiner (19 August 2022): Part 3, The Violence
West Cork History Festival (6 - 7 August 2022) recordings on YouTube: Gemma Clark, "'Sectarianism" as an interpretative framework: Placing the Bandon Valley Massacre in historical and historiographical perspective'
Gemma Clark, 'Troubled birth of a new Ireland was marked by turbulence and strife', Irish Examiner (14 June 2022)
Gemma Clark, 'Dangerous but rarely deadly: Fire as protest in modern Ireland', FORGED BY FIRE blog (14 Sept. 2020)
Gemma Clark, 'Violence against women in the Irish Civil War', Cambridge Core blog (12 Aug. 2020)
Laura Lynott, 'Shot at for singing and forced 'shearing': toll paid by women during the Civil War', Independent.ie (4 Aug. 2020)
Podcast: 'Episode 1: The Troubles', 30 Minute Expert (24 May 2020)
'HEAD TO HEAD: Why do the British know so little about Irish history?', History Today, Volume 69 Issue 1 (January 2019)
Podcast: 'S2 Episode 11 Irish Politics and the Civil War', The Irish Passport
Gemma Clark, Opinion: ‘The Irish revolution: Moral campaign or bitter sectarian conflict?’, The Irish Times, 18 Sept. 2017
Gemma Clark, ‘Motives for murder’, The Revolution Papers, vol. 45 (8 Nov. 2016)
Gemma Clark, ‘Burn after reading: A short history of arson’, The Conversation, 4 Dec. 2014
You can also follow me on Twitter @GeemarJo
BBC One, 'Murder, Mystery and My Family', Series 5, Episode 10 of 10: 'Poff/Barrett' (first broadcast 9 July 2021)
BBC Radio 5Live, Sport’s Strangest Crimes: The Real Story of Shergar the Super Horse: Episode 2: 'Thieves in the Night' (10 June 2021)
BBC Sounds, 'Year '21', Episode 10: The Big Fellow (first broadcast 5 March 2021), Episode 16: The Belfast Pogrom (16 April 2021), Episode 35: The Southern Protestants (27 August 2021)
Radio interview (3 May 2021) on the centenary of Partition: LBC News
Radio interview (8 April 2021) with Iain Dale on rioting in Northern Ireland: LBC
Radio interview (2 February 2019) on current threat of paramilitary violence in Northern Ireland: talkRADIO, Saturday Breakfast with Penny Smith, 07:00–10:00 at 09:05
Radio interview (16 Nov. 2017) with Janet Kipling on violence and historical accuracy in BBC drama 'Peaky Blinders': BBC Radio Devon, 'Devon Debates', 13:00–16:00 at 14:22
I'm a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and hold a Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (University of Exeter).
Teaching Awards 2021: Outstanding Teaching (Nominated)
Teaching Awards 2020: Best Supervisor (Shortlisted)
Teaching Awards 2018: Best Lecturer (Nominated)
Students' Guild Teaching Awards 2016: Most Supportive Staff Member (Nominated)
- HIH1400 - Making History
- HIH1401 - Approaches to History
- HIH1420 - Understanding the Modern World
- HIH2001 - Doing History: Perspectives on Sources
- HIH2002 - Uses of the Past
- HIH2024A - Britain and Ireland: Union, Conflict, and Independence, 1798-1949
- HIH3005 - General Third-Year Dissertation
- HIH3157 - The Irish Revolution, 1912-23: Sources
- HIH3158 - The Irish Revolution, 1912-23: Context
- HIH3628 - Civil Wars
- HIH3632 - Violence
- HISM400 - Dissertation in History