Projects per year
I am an historian of Puritanism and evangelicalism, with a particular interest in print culture. I was elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (2004), and held posts in early modern literature and history in the University of Manchester (2004-2007) and Trinity College Dublin (2000-2004, 2007-2012), where I was elected a Fellow (2011), before taking up my current position at Queen's (2013), and acting as head of the School of History and Anthropology (2015-16) and Queen's director of the AHRC Northern Bridge PhD programme (2017-2020).
My current projects in the earlier period include work on John Owen, especially looking at his relationships with John Milton, Andrew Marvell, and Lucy Hutchinson, while researching a new project on J. N. Darby and the emergence of dispensationalism, which I have discussed on BBC Radio 4's "In our Time" programme.
I serve as co-editor of the new open-access journal, Studies in Puritanism and Piety, and of two series of monographs and edited collections entitled 'Christianities in the trans-Atlantic world, 1550-1800' (Palgrave Macmillan) and 'Scottish religious cultures: Historical perspectives' (Edinburgh University Press). I also serve on the board of The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller (De Gruyter) and the Brethren Historical Review, as well as on the advisory board of the Scottish Literary Review. I directed the 'Radical Religion in the trans-Atlantic world, 1500-1800' project (funded by the Irish Research Council, 2012-13, and DCAL MAGUS, 2014-15), and have written on religious politics for outlets including History Today, The Irish Times, Books & Culture, The Conversation, The American Conservative, The American Interest, The Article and The Critic, as well as for knowledge exchange organisations such as Foreign Policy Research Institute. I review books for newspapers including the Wall Street Journal (examples here and here). I am the founding co-director, with Daniel Hill (University of Liverpool), of the Jonathan Edwards Centre (UK), an affiliate of the Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University. I am a member of the advisory board of the Research Institute of Irish and Scottish Studies (RIISS) at the University of Aberdeen. I also host a regular religious history podcast on the New Books Network. During my sabbatical, in semester 2 of 2019-20, I will take up a Manchester Wesley Research Centre Visiting Fellowship in the John Rylands Library, University of Manchester.
- J. N. Darby and the birth of dispensationalism (in preparation).
- The rise and fall of Christian Ireland (Oxford University Press, 2021, forthcoming).
- Survival and resistance in evangelical America: Christian Reconstruction in the Pacific Northwest (Oxford University Press, 2020, forthcoming).
- An introduction to John Owen (Crossway, 2020)
- John Owen and English Puritanism: Experiences of defeat (Oxford University Press, 2016)
- Evangelical millennialism in the trans-Atlantic world, 1500-2000 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011)
- Writing the rapture: Prophecy fiction in evangelical America (Oxford University Press, 2009)
- God's Irishmen: Theological debates in Cromwellian Ireland (Oxford University Press, 2007)
- The puritan millennium: Literature and theology, 1550-1682 (Four Courts, 2000)
- On being Reformed: Debates over a theological identity, co-author with Matthew Bingham, Chris Caughey, D. G. Hart and R. Scott Clark (Palgrave, 2018)
- The cultures of Calvinism in early modern Europe, co-editor with Graeme Murdock (Oxford University Press, 2019)
- Dublin: Renaissance City of Literature, co-editor with Kathleen Miller (Manchester University Press, 2017)
- Puritans and Catholics in the trans-Atlantic world, 1600-1800, co-editor with Scott Spurlock (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015)
- Left Behind and the evangelical imagination, co-editor with Mark Sweetnam (Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2011)
- Literature and the Scottish reformation, co-editor with David G. Mullan (Ashgate, 2009)
- Enforcing reformation in Ireland and Scotland, 1550-1700, co-editor with Elizabethanne Boran (Ashgate, 2006)
- Protestant millennialism, evangelicalism and Irish society, 1790-2005, co-editor with Andrew Holmes (Palgrave, 2006)
- Expecting the end: Millennialism in social and historical context, co-editor with Kenneth Newport (Baylor University Press, 2006)
- Prisoners of hope? Aspects of evangelical millennialism in Britain and Ireland, 1800-1880, co-editor with Timothy C. F. Stunt (Paternoster, 2004)
Some recent articles:
- "Lucy Hutchinson's theology," Review of English Studies (forthcoming).
- “Ireland,” Oxford history of Protestant dissenting traditions, vol. 1, ed. John Coffey (Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming).
- “‘Inexpressible horrour’: The devil and Baptist life writing in Cromwellian Ireland,” Church History (forthcoming, 2020).
- “Calvin and Calvinism in early modern England, Scotland and Ireland,” in R. Ward Holder (ed.), John Calvin in context (Cambridge: CUP, 2019), pp. 383-90.
- “John Owen, scholastic theology and congregational life,” in Michael Davies, Anne Dunan-Page and Joel Halcombe (eds), Church life in seventeenth-century England: Pastors, congregations, and the experience of dissent (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019), pp. 119-35.
- “The church of God in Belfast: Needed Truth, the Vernalites, and the Howard Street Christians, 1890-1924,” Brethren Historical Review 14 (2018),pp. 120-48.
- “Becoming John Owen: The making of an evangelical reputation,” Westminster Theological Journal 79 (2017), pp. 311-25.
- “John N. Darby, dispensational eschatology, and the formation of trans-Atlantic evangelicalism,” Schweizerische Zeitschrift für Religions- and Kulturgeschichte 110 (2016), pp. 99-109.
- “John Owen, Lucy Hutchinson, and the experience of defeat,” The Seventeenth Century 30 (2015), pp. 179-90.
- “Reformed eschatology,” in Richard Muller et al (eds), The Oxford handbook of early modern theology(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), pp. 259-74.
- “The commodification of Scripture, 1640-1660: Politics, ecclesiology and the cultures of print,” in Kevin Killeen et al (eds), The Oxford Handbook of the Bible in Early Modern England, 1530-1700 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), pp. 224-36.
- “Scottish Romanticism, evangelicalism and Robert Pollok’s The Course of Time (1827),” Romanticism 21:1 (2015), pp. 25-36.
- “Polemic and apocalyptic in the Cromwellian invasion of Scotland,” Literature & History 23:1 (2014), pp. 1-18.
- “Angels and demons in Cromwellian and Restoration Ireland: Heresy and the supernatural,” Huntington Library Quarterly, 76 (2013), pp. 377-92.
I am an enthusiastic teacher and supervisor of undergraduate students. Essays prepared by my students have been shortlisted for the Irish Undergraduate of the Year prize for history (2009), have won the Irish Undergraduate of the Year prize for English (2010) and the undergraduate essay prize of the Irish Association for the Academic Study of Religion (2017).
- HIS2064 “Uniting kingdoms? Britain and Ireland, 1603-1815”
- HAP2065 “Apocalypse! The history and anthropology of the end of the world”
- ENG2045 "Reading revolutions: The Bible in medieval and early modern English culture"
- HIS3114 “The British Republic, 1649-1660”
PhDs and Postdocs:
I am a committed supervisor of doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers, and the winner of a Faculty prize for postgraduate supervision (2017). I have first-supervised to completion 15 PhDs in a range of topics related to the literary cultures of Puritanism and evangelicalism, almost all of which have been published by or are forthcoming with Palgrave, Wipf & Stock, and Routledge, including two titles with Oxford University Press. PhD students within the School can attend specialist research training opportunities provided by the university's membership of the Folger Institute, Washington DC, which include regular courses on paleography.
I particularly welcome proposals for studies of John Owen. We need much more work on Owen’s networks in Essex in the 1640s; his administration of the university of Oxford; his place in the booming print culture of the revolutionary period, especially in the second-hand market; his relationship with Marvell and Bunyan; the ways in which he was perceived by his critics, including Milton; his influence on Locke; his late-career political activity; and his reception in Scotland and New England. We need more theological studies of Owen’s reception of medieval theology; his habits of exegesis; his view of Scripture and tradition; his view of the church; his view of the Catholic church, especially of the Jansenist movement; and especially his doctrine of baptism. Please contact me if you are interest in exporing any of these doctoral project possibilities.
I am currently first supervisor of PhDs in the following areas:
- John Owen's political theology
- Church discipline in Edinburgh, 1638-35
- The ecclesiology of J. N. Darby
During 2017-2021, I will be mentoring Kathleen Miller's EU Horizon 2020 funded postdoctoral fellowship on women and the writing of plague in early modern England, having previously supervised the PhD thesis that she published as The Literary Culture of Plague in Early Modern England (Palgrave, 2016). I have previously mentored several postdoctoral research fellows whose projects have included The Minutes of the Antrim Ministers, 1654-8 (funded by the Ulster Scots Agency, 2008, and published by Four Courts, 2012); Christian Zionism and English national identity (funded by IRCHSS, 2011-13; Palgrave, 2018); and 'Memorialising the killing times: History, religion and nation in pre-Enlightenment Scotland' (funded by IRCHSS, 2011-14, and forthcoming from Edinburgh University Press).
Belfast offers outstanding resources to students wishing to pursue doctoral or postdoctoral research in early modern and modern religious history, including missionary archives relating to Amy Carmichael and a multitude of denominational and inter-denominational societies, held in PRONI and in various denominational repositories. I am interested in hearing from anyone who is interested in pursuing doctoral or postdoctoral research on the literary cultures of Puritanism and evangelicalism in an inter-disciplinary context.
Research Output per year
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article
Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceeding › Chapter (peer-reviewed)
Activities per year
Activity: Talk or presentation types › Invited or keynote talk at national or international conference
Activity: Other activity types › Other
1 Media contribution
Press/Media: Public Engagement Activities