• Room 01.004 - 17 University Square

    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I am open to PhD applications in the fields of: - Urban culture from the late 19th to mid-20th century in Britain, the USA, and Ireland - The nature of citizenship and belonging - The place of the past, and especially of historical re-enactment - Sexuality and queerness


Research activity per year

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Personal profile

Research Interests

I am a modern historian with interests in two (sometimes overlapping) areas: urban culture in Britain, the US and Ireland; and the popular place of the past in Britain.

In my first book, After the Shock City: Urban Culture and the Making of Modern Citizenship (Boydell, 2019), I used the former 'shock cities' of Manchester and Chicago to understand both the theory and reality of civic belonging. I covered the late-nineteenth to mid-twentieth century, and ranged broadly across philosophy, festivals, re-enactments, youth culture, and welfare. Reviews: Urban History, Journal of British Studies, Journal of Contemporary History, English Historical ReviewJournal of American HistoryEducational Science Review [German], Cultural & Social History. I further explored how cities are governed in a co-edited volume with Professor Simon Gunn, New Approaches to Governance and Rule in Urban Europe since 1500 (Routledge, 2020).

I have also been researchng the 'historical pageant' in twentieth-century Britain, as a former member of an AHRC-funded collaborative project, run by Professor Paul Readman at King's College London. Historical pageants were immensely popular forms of local amateur re-enactment, usually taking place outside to crowds numbering in their thousands. We created a database of these events, and have co-authored widely: on medievalism in English Historical Review (2018), the First World War in Historical Research (2017), and education in History of Education (2019). My single-authored article on civic boosterism was published in Urban History (2017). An edited volume has also been published open-access with UCL Press (2020), and we are working on a monograph (expected 2023-4).

I am now leading two projects that grew out of my interests in cities and the popular past:

  1. Queer Northern Ireland: Sexuality before Liberationfunded by the AHRC (2022-2025). Dr Leanne McCormick (Ulster University) is the co-investigator, and we are partnered with the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland and Cara Friend. We are looking at cultures and experiences of (homo)sexuality from the late-19th to mid-20th century. I have already written a short article about this research for Gay Times (Jan, 2019 - if you would like a digital copy, please do get in contact via email), given a public talk on Belfast between the 1890s and 1910s (available online), and have an article on Belfast during the First World War forthcoming with Irish Historical Studies (2021). For more information you can watch this short video.

  2. Voyaging through History: The Mayflower and Britain, 1620-2020, funded by the AHRC (2018-2021). Dr Martha Vandrei (Exeter) was the co-investigator, Dr Ed Downey (QUB) the research associate, and we were partnered with the British Library and the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton. This project traces the 'afterlife' of this famous voyage across the last four hundred years in Britain by looking at its portrayal in art, literature, and commemorations. I have an article in Cultural & Social History on the Mayflower's afterlife in Plymouth, and we are currently working on other publications. For more information on the project as a whole you can visit our website.


My student meeting hours are 12-1pm on Wednesday (during term time) - in these times of COVID-19 we will have to meet on Teams (the best thing to do is drop me an email).

I am keen to supervise PhD theses on modern/contemporary history (c. 1880s-1970s), especially on urban belonging and community, civic festivals and celebrations, historical re-enactment and pageantry, education and citizenship, local government and governance, and masculinity and homosexuality. I am happy to take topics on Britain, the USA, and Ireland, but also to explore geographically comparative work more broadly.

Current PhD students

Michael Lawrence, 'Quare fellows abroad: homosexuality and the Irish diaspora, 1880-1960' (Primary supervisor, AHRC Northern Bridge 2021-)

Jamie Nugent, '"Making Ulster the tourists Mecca": tourism, identity and modernization in the north of Ireland, 1901-1971' (Primary supervisor, AHRC Northern Bridge 2020-)

Tom Ward, 'Queer citizenship in contemporary Britain, 1967-2005' (Secondary supervisor, Department of Education 2020-)

Rhianne Morgan, 'Belfast baths: Exploring and interpreting the historic spaces of the Victorian industrial city' (Secondary supervisor, AHRC Northern Bridge 2017-)


I was awarded my PhD in Urban History from the University of Leicester in 2013 (where I was also an undergraduate and postgraduate student, 2005-2009). Before taking up my current post, I was an Early Career Lecturer at the Institute of Historical Research (2015-2016), and a Research Associate at King's College London (2013-2015). 

I'm an 'out and proud' gay man and an active supporter of LGBT+ equality. I sit on the committee of the LGBT+ Staff Network, have written a short piece about teaching queer history in Northern Ireland, and given many public talks on the same theme (and always happy to give more!).

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities


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