Brian Cowan

Contact Information
Address: 

Leacock, Rm 636
Department of History 855 Sherbrooke West
Montreal, Quebec
H3A 2T7

Phone: 
514-398-4400 ext.09292
Email address: 
brian.cowan2 [at] mcgill.ca
Position: 
Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Early Modern British History
Office: 
Leacock, Rm 636
Degree(s): 

PhD (Princeton)

Specialization by time period: 
1450 - 1800
Specialization by geographical area: 
Europe
Curriculum vitae: 
Biography: 

Brian Cowan is a historian of early modern Britain and Europe. He has been a visiting research fellow at the Institute of Advanced Studies at Durham University and the Institute for Historical Studies at the University of Texas-Austin, and has previously taught at the University of Sussex (UK) and Yale University (USA). He is the author of The Social Life of Coffee: The Emergence of the British Coffeehouse, (Yale University Press, 2005), which was awarded the Wallace K. Ferguson Prize by the Canadian Historical Association in 2006. His second book, The State Trial of Doctor Henry Sacheverell (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012) uses book history to provide a new understanding of the most important political trial of the eighteenth century. He is a member of the Multigraph Collective responsible for Interacting with Print: Elements of Reading in the Era of Print Saturation, (Univ. of Chicago Press, 2018) which studies eighteenth and nineteenth-century print culture as part of a multi-media environment. 

He edits the monograph series ‘Cultures of Early Modern Europe’ for Bloomsbury Academic with Prof. Beat Kümin (Warwick Univ., UK). He is currently president of the board of directors for the international research group Sociabilités/Sociability du long dix-huitième siècle (1650-1850) and a member of the Quebec-based Groupe de Récherche en Histoire des Sociabilités. He is currently working on the politics of celebrity in Britain from the regicidal revolution to the American revolution, and is editing A Cultural History of Fame in the Enlightenment (1650-1770) for Bloomsbury Academic. His additional publications on the history of early modern taste have ranged from studies of art auctions and connoisseurship to gastronomy and food writing.

Graduate supervision: 

Early modern British and western European history, particularly political, intellectual and cultural history. Current Ph.D. students are working on the following topics:

  • The Scottish Inquisition: Resistance to King James VII in Scotland, 1685-88
  • Anglo-Scots Union and the Political Nation of Great Britain, 1707-1727
  • John Wilkes and Demotic neoclassicism in England, c. 1760-90