Skip to main content

David Johnson

Project title

The Feel of Home: Emotions History in the Nineteenth Century British Middle-Class Home.



David Johnson

Project description

Home is an emotionally evocative word, and the idea of home continues to be central to the British identity.  Previous studies of the history of the home have explored the commodity culture or the use of spaces within the home.  This study seeks to explore the emotions associated with the home by addressing two interconnected questions:

  1. Was there a gap, or did one develop, between the popular beliefs and representations of a British middle-class home’s emotional environment and the lived emotional experiences of people in that home?
  2. Was the perception of the emotional space of a home the same for householders in different parts of Great Britain?

The project draws on the use of an emotions lexicon developed from domestic economy guides which were widely published during the nineteenth century, and compares the emotions identified in that lexicon to records of emotional responses in privately written materials such as diaries and letters.  The study shows that the alignment between prescription and practice for the feel of home was much closer than what previous studies focused on commodities alone have allowed. 

Research grants

Newcastle University Overseas Research Scholarship (NUORS)

Scottish Historical Review Postgraduate Bursary Scheme



2019 - 2021 — Teaching Assistant at Newcastle University for HIS1025: World Empires, HIS1044: Aspects of British History, HIS1029: Varieties of History, HIS1105: What is History For?, HIS1101: Historical Sources and Methods, SEL2218: Research Project in English Literature & History

2011 - 2018 — History Staff at Colorado Northwestern Community College, Craig, Colorado, USA.  Faculty of the Year 2013-2014

2001 - 2011 — Teacher at Miami-Yoder School, Rush, Colorado, USA.


Other roles

2019 - 2021 — NUSU School Representative for the School of History, Classics, and Archaeology

2012 - 2018 — Secretary and board member, Museum of Northwest Colorado

2012 - 2018 — Academic Representative for Colorado Northwestern Community College to the Colorado State Faculty Curriculum Committee

2016 - 2017 — Lead Faculty for Arts and Sciences, Colorado Northwestern Community College

2015 - 2016 — Faculty Senate President, Colorado Northwestern Community College


Papers and conferences

March, 2021 — Co-chair, Notes from Home, an international virtual conference on the history of the home.

November, 2020 — PGR Forum seminar series: Finding Home in the ‘Other’: Emotions and Nineteenth-Century Poverty Studies.

December, 2019 — PGR Forum seminar series: Changing the Language of Home.

July, 2019 — Victorian Popular Fiction Conference: Prescribing the Feel of Home in Victorian Domestic Guides.

April, 2019 — Newcastle University Teaching and Learning Conference: Technology: Could versus Should.



2021 - ‘Affirmation in the “Other”: Middle-Class Identity and Nineteenth-Century Poverty Studies’ in EPOCH (Lancaster University).

2020 - Book Review: A biography of loneliness in Contemporary British History

2016 - Madman in a Box: The Social History of Doctor Who

2013 - ‘Mediating Between the Scientific and the Spiritual’ in Time and Relative Dimensions in Faith



  • Associate Fellow, Higher Education Association, 2021.

  • MA History, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, 2011. Graduate student of the year for 2011. 

  • BA English, California State University, Long Beach, 1991