An Evening Celebrating Professor Joanna Bourke

In July 2023, colleagues, friends, and students of Professor Joanna Bourke (PI of the SHaME Project) came together to mark Joanna’s retirement from Birkbeck, University of London. SHaME’s Allison McKibban shares about the evening, which included a panel discussion of her work, an interview, and a video tribute.

In July 2023, members of the SHaME team joined colleagues, friends, and students of Professor Joanna Bourke – Principal Investigator of the SHaME Project – to celebrate her scholarship and mark her retirement.

Hosted at Gresham College, the evening began with a fabulous introduction by host Jude Kelly, CBE, who co-developed the Shameless Festival of Activism Against Sexual Violence with Joanna in 2021. Sir Richard Evans provided a powerful overview of Joanna’s impressive historical canon, and introduced a panel of notable professors—including Pat Thane, Julie-Marie Strange, and Robin May Schott—who shared their reflections on Joanna’s work ranging from histories of working-class culture and Birkbeck; to gender, medicine, and animals; to war and sexual violence.

Following the homage to her work, Professor Julia Laite, a colleague of Joanna’s from Birkbeck, interviewed Joanna, covering a range of topics including her favorite book, the nuance of writing on challenging topics, and her plans for the future. Needless to say, retirement will mean many more powerful books for her readers!

Joanna Bourke and Julia Laite sit in chairs on a stage. Joanna is answering a question into a microphone while Julia listens.
In conversation with Prof Joanna Bourke and Prof Julia Laite in July 2023.


The evening concluded with a video tribute to Joanna’s time as the Professor of Rhetoric at Gresham College, as well as a short film created by SHaME’s Allison McKibban featuring nearly two dozen of Joanna’s former students and mentees.

The SHaME project was Joanna’s final research project at Birkbeck, and we feel deeply grateful for the wisdom, knowledge, and guidance she provided to each of us. The field of sexual violence research has been profoundly shaped by her scholarship, and the scholarship of the many people she has mentored and taught.

On a personal level, I already miss Joanna’s weekly (or sometimes daily) updates about the project, but I am so excited to hear all she has to say through her many books and articles in the years to come.

You can watch a recording of the Panel and Interview here.

You can watch the Birkbeck video tribute from Joanna’s current and former students and mentees here.

You can watch the Gresham video tribute of Joanna’s time as Professor of Rhetoric at Gressham College here.