Current Areas of Research
Performing Histories (Film, in Museums, and on Stage):
Building on the Performing Histories project I am currently working on four papers exploring performances of the past in film and on stage: the staging of the Elizabethan Settlement in Shekhar Kapur’s film Elizabeth; shifting time and space in Howard Brenton’s recent play, Anne Boleyn; historical authenticity in theatre productions about the past drawing on my work as Company Historian to the National Art Centre’s English Theatre; and theatrical performances in museums, focusing on the Dramamuse Company at the Canadian Museum of Civilization (now the Canadian Museum of History) in Ottawa.
Historians working in the field of Public History analyze representations of the past that the public consumes (in films, books, museums etc) and engage with the practice of history making outside of academia. I am editing the Companion to Public History which will be a major reference book for anyone interested in this area, featuring essays from over thirty public historians, practitioners, and others working in related fields and disciplines from across the globe.
Early Modern Britain:
Having written extensively on parliament, localities, and political culture in early modern England, and most recently on the first state lottery in England, I am currently co-writing (with Dr Kathryn Prince of the University of Ottawa) Shakespeare’s England, a textbook introducing students to the period with a focus on its drama.
Selected Books, Edited Books, Journal Special Issues
History, Memory, Performance is an interdisciplinary collection of essays exploring performances of the past in a wide range of trans-national and historical contexts ranging from seventeenth century New France and nineteenth-century Russia to modern Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Lebanon, Russia, and the United States. Contributions from theatre scholars and public historians address issues of shared interest to the disciplines of theatre studies and theatre history, performance studies, history, and public history, coalescing around the concept of memory, both collective and individual. Wide-ranging and theoretically engaged, History, Memory, Performance is especially timely given the historical turn in theatre studies and the performative turn in historical studies. I have co-edited this book with University of Ottawa theatre professors Yana Meerzon and Kathryn Prince.
The articles that constitute this special issue examine the role of museums in promoting peace and social justice through developing historical understanding and historical consciousness. By telling stories about the past for an audience in the present, history museums operate in the belief that knowing what has happened in the past helps us understand who we are, and for some this is a first step in the long process of achieving social justice and perhaps even resolving conflict. By bringing difficult subjects, traumatic experiences, and injustices into the open, by making them visible, and by finding ways in which visitors can critically engage with them, these museums play an essential role in contemporary society.
This book offered the first detailed account of the last Elizabethan parliaments. Examining a wide range of social and economic issues, law reform, religious and political concerns, it addressed the importance of parliament both as a political event and as a legislative institution. I drew on an array of local, corporate and personal archives to reinterpret the legislative history of the period and in doing so, I think I reached a deeper understanding of many aspects of Elizabethan history.
For much of the 20th century the parliaments of Elizabeth I had traditionally been viewed as areas of conflict between a conservative Queen on the one hand and an organized Puritan opposition on the other. By placing the activities of the Elizabethan parliaments firmly within the English polity, this book sought to provide a fuller picture of the politics of parliaments. Together, the essays contributed to our understanding of what Elizabethan parliaments did, how they did it and how its activities were perceived by contemporaries.
Chapters in Books (just a few of my favourites)
Selected Articles in Journals
“Staging the Elizabethan Settlement: Kapur’s Elizabeth”, Parliamentary History (2015)
“Theatre: A Neglected Site of Public History”, The Public Historian 34.3 (August, 2012), 21-39
“Elizabeth’s Lottery: Political Culture and State Formation in Early Modern England”, Journal of British Studies 50:3 (July 2011) 587-611
“Museums as conflict zones: the Canadian War Museum and Bomber Command”, Museum & Society Vol. 7, No. 1 (March 2009)
‘Museums, Nation and Political History in the Australian National Museum and the Canadian Museum of Civilization’ Museums & Society, Vol. 3, No. 1, spring 2005