David Rowe


I am a PhD student undertaking a collaborative project with the History of Advertising Trust (HAT). The project investigates the historical shift during 100 years of British sexual health advertising (further details of the project can be found below in the research interests section of this profile). In 2018 I successfully obtained a WRoCAH scholarship through their annual competitive selection process. I am therefore gratefully receiving their support for the remaining two years of this project. 

Research interests


The project examines modern British sexual-health advertising through six distinct, influential eras between 1913-2013 in collaboration with the History of Advertising Trust (HAT).

The aims:

[1] uncovering changing ideologies of normative sexual activity

[2] reconstructing historical shifts in sexual-health advertising techniques.

Ideologies of sexual activity have widespread, but ill-understood social implications. Similarly, sexual-health advertising techniques have not been systematically and historically reviewed. The project explores sexual-health advertising by analysing the use of language and images, including representations of the infected subject, a visual device with a key role in sexual-health advertisements. Depictions are complex, cover a range of identities (individual, body types, gender, race, sexuality, group); can be lucid or ambiguous; and can represent identity explicitly, or imply it through indirect representation.

Methods: combine Visual Culture and Rhetoric Theory. The material will be synthesised into a historical narrative using techniques of historical reconstruction.

Sources: sexual-health advertisements (print, film/TV); oral histories from advertising-industry actors; and archival documents from campaign development.

Potential impact outside of academia: I will curate a sexual-health advertising exhibition for HAT and assist them with their education programme. This aims to include current producers of sexual-health campaigns (such as charities and public bodies), and the wider public.