I am a Senior Lecturer and Course Director for the Criminology courses (undergraduate and postgraduate). I also act as the Research Lead for Criminology and am Chair of the School Ethics Committee. I primarily teach on Applied Criminology courses.
I studied at Keele University, gaining a first class honours degree in Criminology and Psychology and a Masters in Criminology and Research Methods awarded with distinction. I completied my Ph.D. ay Keele University in 2011. I joined Canterbury Christ Church University in 2013, after holding teaching posts at Keele University and the University of Liverpool.
Since joining Christ Church University my research interests in historical criminology have expanded from an initial concern with theoretical understandings of the development of modern policing to include work on histories of imprisonment and the representation of penal heritage, in the UK and internationally. I was the research lead for the ‘Mapping the History of Canterbury Prison’ project in 2017, holding an exhibition entitled Prison Lives in January 2018. The work continues through my teaching, with students engaging with historical prisoners’ life stories to develop insights into the contemporary use of the prison. I have also been involved in an inter-disciplinary team researching representations of prison heritage in Viet Nam, undertaking two research field trips to that county in 2018 and 2019. I am currently working on articles relating to these areas, as well as the history of criminal investigation and deaths in custody.
I teach on a range of modules within the Applied Criminology programme, but have also contributed as relevant to various undergraduate and postgraduate policing courses. I am currently first supervisor for four postgraduate research students and welcome PhD students interested in historical criminology broadly, as well as some areas of critical criminology and cultural criminology.
Research and knowledge exchange
My interest in historical and critical criminology began during my undergraduate studies at Keele University. Following completion of these, I spent several years working in the homelessness sector, returning to postgraduate study in 2005 under a 1+3 ESRC scholarship. My masters dissertation explored experiences of victimisation among homesless young people. I returned to historical criminology for my Ph.D., which produced a Bourdieusian analysis of the introduction of modern policing, producing a theoretical model that has relevance for understanding local-central state relations more generally during this period.
Canterbury Christ Church University bought the former Canterbury prison site in 2014. My research since has focused on the development of ethical and critical representations of that institution's almost two hundred year history. Mapping the History of Canterbury Prison and the Prison Lives exhibition was an initial element of this but work continues. It is hoped that the University will eventually develop a heritage centre as part of the redevelopment of the site.
I have also been involved in producing guidance for best practice in representating histories of imprisonment, as part of both the AHRC/Labex funded project ‘Sites of Suffering, Sites of Memory’ and the ‘More than Horrible Histories’ event at the University of the West of England in February 2020. Two publications have been produced asscoaited with this. Finally I have researched penal heritage in Viet Nam, forming part of an inter-disciplinary team working on this.
My postgraduate supervision currently involves projects exploring staff and culture in open prisons, the historical delivery of rehabilitation in prisons between 1948 and the 1970s, policy and media representations of open prisons, and representations of women and family relationships within cases of fatal domestic homicide in the mid-twentieth century.
Teaching and subject expertise
The criminology prorgamme at Canterbury Christ Church University involves a collaborative approach to teaching. Consequently I contribute to a range of modules across the programme. For example, I deliver a session exploring ideas of social justice at prison museums, and another which considers the Grenfell Tower fire as an example of state-corporate crime.
I co-ordinate my own modules, leading Research Methods and the dissertation module to supporting students to apply their knowledge to carry out their own small research project. I run a specialist module on Punishment and the Prison, in which students act as co-creators of knowledge, using a ghost criminology approach to expand the prisoner life stories developed through my research on Canterbury prison.
I am passionate about including students actively in the generation of knowledge, supporting them to contribute to staff research, as well as undertaking their own projects. I also support staff to develop their supervisory skills at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
In collaboration with Dr Katja Hallenberg, I have worked to emebed sustainability within the criminology curriculum, leading to a sustained increased in content on environmental criminology, climate change, social harm and social justice.
In 2017 I developed a blended approach to teaching research methods. This continues to be helpful to students, and th experience enabled me to support the programme team to adapt their teaching methods during the COVID-19 pandemic and the shift to online learning.
I contribute on occasion to other programmes within the School, including the in-service BSc Policing programme, the MSc by Research in Policing, and the MSc in Policing with the Police Academy in the Netherlands. I also act as an external examiner for the Criminology programme at Kingston University.
My research on historical criminology has involved me delivering conference presentations at a number of national and international events, including those organized by the European Society of Criminology and the British Society of Criminology. I have been invited to speak on my work by a number of organisations, including the Crime and Punishment Collections Network, the Police and Criminal Justice Seminar Series run by The Open University, and the National Justice Museum. I have also been invited to present at events associated with research projects such as the ‘Sites of Suffering, Sites of Memory’ and the artist Edgar Martin’s ‘What Photography has in Common with an Empty Vase’ symposium. Examples of some recent papers include:
- Tennant, M. (2021) ‘”Our Penal Borstal”: Navigating “the half-way house” in early implementation of the borstal system’, paper presented at the British Crime Historians Symposium, Online, 3rd September 2021.
- Tennant, M. (2019) ‘Museums of Pain: Prisoner ‘Mugshots’ and the Pain we Cannot See’, paper presented at the British Society of Criminology Conference, University of Lincoln, 4th July 2019.
- Tennant, M. (2018) ‘Photography and the Pain of the Prison’, paper presented at What Photography has in Common with an Empty Vase Symposium, Birmingham City University, 5th December 2018
- Tennant, M. (2018) ‘The Tiger Cages of Con Dao: Some Observations’, paper to be presented at the A Poetics of Space: Images of Con Dao workshop, National Justice Museum, Nottingham, 24th Nov. 2018
I am associated with a number of historical criminology networks, and was involved in the establishment of both the British Crime Historians and the Historical Criminology network of the British Society of Criminology. I have acted as a peer-reviewer for the ESRC, as well as historical and sociological journals, such as Historical Research and Capital and Class, and the Routledge books Criminology series. In 2016 I was a member of the Advisory Editorial Board for new Open University Press Criminology textbook by Case et al. In 2017 I participated in the steering group to established the Historical Criminology sub-group within the British Society of Criminology I continue to be a member of the Academic Advisory Group for this. In 2018 I was invited to be an academic advisor on the launch of the new ditigal penal heritage resource containing information about historic British prisons developed by Dr Rosalind Crone at The Open University.
Publications and research outputs
- Tennant, M. (forthcoming) ‘Framing the Tiger Cages: Contested Symbols of Postcolonial Conflict in the USA and Vietnam’. In S. Fuggle, C. Forsdick and K. Massing (Eds) Framing the Penal Colony: Representing, Interpreting and Imagining Convict Transportation, Palgrave.
- Wallis, R., Tennant, M., Baker, B., Druce, A., Harrison, L., Johnson, D., Kelly, J., Mellors, L., Moody, J., Radford, M., Rowbotham, J., Schroff, S., and Wyatt, B. (2020) ‘More than Horrible Histories: A Manifesto for effective and ethical interpretation of criminal justice histories’. (Ed. R. Wallis). Available from: https://uwe-repository.worktribe.com/output/6966060
- Tennant, M. (2018) ‘From Darkness to Light: Portrait Pictures in the Bảo Tàng Côn Đảo Museum’ in S. Fuggle, C. Fox, C. Forsdick, M. Tennant and K. Massing (2018) A Poetics of Space: Images of Con Dao, Pavement Books: London, pp. 23-28.
- Tennant, M., Mulhearn, R., Forsdick, C. and Godfrey, B. (2018) ‘Presenting and Interpreting Penal Heritage’, a briefing paper for the heritage industry published as a part of the Dark Tourism in Comparative Perspective: Sites of Suffering, Sites of Memory project funded by AHRC and LABEX.
- Tennant, M. and Hallenberg, K. (2017) ‘Criminology and Criminal Justice Responses to the Whole Earth Exhibition: Linking Justice and Sustainability at Canterbury Christ Church University’ in Case, S., Manlow, D., Smith, R., Williams, K. and Johnson, P. (eds) Criminology, Open University Press: Milton Keynes.
- Tennant, M. (2017) ‘Heritage’ in Turner, J., Taylor, P., Corteen, K. and Morley, S. (eds) A Companion to Crime and Criminal Justice History, Polity Press: Bristol.
- Tennant, M. (2017) ‘Policing (20th Century)’ in Turner, J., Taylor, P., Corteen, K. and Morley, S. (eds) A Companion to Crime and Criminal Justice History, Polity Press: Bristol.
- Tennant, M. (2014) ‘Fields of Struggle: A Bourdieusian Analysis of Conflict between Local and Central Government over Criminal Justice in the 1840s’, Social History, 39(1), 36-55