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Brian Lewis

Degree(s) and Education: 

PhD (Harvard)

Leacock, Rm 613
Office Hours: 
Fall 2014: Monday: 11:45-12:45; Wednesdays: 13:30-14:30
Mailing Address: 

Leacock, Rm 613
Department of History 855 Sherbrooke West
Montreal, Quebec
H3A 2T7

514-398-4400 ext.00684
Email Address: 
brian [dot] lewis [at] mcgill [dot] ca
Professional Biography: 

I am a historian of modern Britain. My first substantial book (2001), which grew out of my PhD thesis, analyzes the leading members of the middle classes of Lancashire cotton milltowns (in particular Blackburn, Bolton and Preston) between 1789 and 1851, assessing their economic, cultural and political contributions to the creation of social stability. My second book (2008) is a study of William Hesketh Lever, 1st Viscount Leverhulme (1851-1925), the founder of the Lever Brothers’ Sunlight soap empire. The book is a broad social and cultural history, using Lever’s life as an entry-point for discussion of topics as diverse as the “second consumer revolution”; the transition to a corporate economy; the development of advertising; factory paternalism; town planning and suburbanization; colonialism and forced labour in West Africa and the South Pacific; country houses, landscape gardening and art collecting; and the transformation of crofting and fishing in the Outer Hebrides. My current, SSHRC-funded project is entitled “Decidedly Queer: George Ives and Homosexuality in Britain from Wilde to Wolfenden.” It is an investigation of (homo)sexuality and criminality in Britain between the 1880s and the 1950s using Ives—pioneer “gay rights” campaigner and penal reformer—as my focus. I am also the guest editor of a special queer edition of the Journal of British Studies (July 2012), the editor of a collection of essays entitled British Queer History: New Approaches and Perspectives (2013) and the editor of a forthcoming collection of documents entitled Wolfenden’s Witnesses: Homosexuality in Postwar Britain. The courses that I offer from time to time are an Honours/Graduate Seminar in British Urban History, three survey courses on British History from 1688 to the present, a course on British & Irish Nationalisms (the national question in Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England since the Glorious Revolution), an upper-level course on British Queer History, a survey of the history of sexuality in Europe and North America since 1700, global surveys of the First and Second World Wars and a first-year seminar on nation building and nationalism. Graduate Supervision in Modern British history, the British bourgeoisie, gay and lesbian/queer history.