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Professor Brown's work concerns the Irish and Scottish Enlightenments. He is interested in the interaction between religious, political and ethical ideas in the eighteenth century. This work is enhanced by the study of the political cultures of Britain and Ireland. Alongside contributions to intellectual history, Professor Brown has edited collections on religious, legal and literary history. His approach is often comparative and interdisciplinary, with a focus on imaginative and philosophical writings.
Professor Brown is now writing a textbook for Routledge entitled A Cultural History of Europe, 1688-1914: The Birth of Modernity. He is also working on a collection of essays provisionally entitled Making Up Britain in the EighteenthCentury.
He is editing, with Jack Hill, a collection of essays on Adam Ferguson for Aberdeen University Press. He is also editing, with Richard McMahon, A Cultural History of Honor and Shame in the Age of Enlightenment, volume four of Richard Landes and Peter N. Stearns (gen. ed.), A Cultural History of Honor and Shame (London, Bloomsbury Press, forthcoming, 2022).
Professor Brown's study of The Irish Enlightenment was published in April 2016 by Harvard University Press. Writing in The Irish Times (18 June 2016), Richard Kearney wrote ‘Over the course of 600 pages of sumptuous scholarship … the author demonstrates the existence of a significant Enlightenment project in Ireland in the 18th century.’ In Standpoint (July/August 2016), David Womersley stated ‘this is exemplary history. It both reformulates an important problem, and draws swathes of new material into the scholarly conversation.’ Jonathan Israel in the American Historical Review described the book as ‘detailed, thoughtful and important’. Colin Kidd, writing in Eighteenth-Century Ireland (2017) declared the work a ‘landmark volume’ and described it as ‘stunningly plotted and exquisitely patterned’. Lee Ward concluded his assessment in The Review of Politics, by stating ‘the portrait of an intellectually vibrant colonial Ireland that Brown offers is an early illustration of one of the central political phenomena of the twentieth century’.
He is the author of two other monographs: A Political Biography of John Toland (London; Pickering & Chatto, 2012; paperback Routledge: London, 2016) and Francis Hutcheson in Dublin, 1719-1730 (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2002).
He has a long track record in collaborative work, which includes The Law and Other Legalities of Ireland, 1689-1850 (Farnham; Ashgate Press, 2011), edited with Seán Patrick Donlan and Converts and Conversion in Ireland, 1650-1850 (Dublin; Four Courts Press, 2005) with Charles Ivar MacGrath and Thomas Power.
He also has experience in editing scholarly journals. He spent five years as the general editor of the interdisciplinary peer-reviewed journal, Eighteenth-Century Ireland (2001-2005) and is currently an editor of the Journal of Irish and Scottish Studies (2006 to the present).
Professor Brown is a commissioning editor of the series Poetry and Song in the Age of Revolution (2011 ongoing, 7 volumes to date) which was first published by Pickering & Chatto Press and is now with Routledge. Both United Islands? The Languages of Resistance (London; Pickering & Chatto, 2012; Paperback Routledge: London, 2016) and The Cultures of Radicalism in Britian and Ireland (London; Pickering & Chatto, 2013; Paperback: Routledge, 2016), are edited with John Kirk and Andrew Noble as part of this sequence.
My current supervision areas are: History.
Professor Brown has been the supervisor of eleven successful PhDs to date, and is currently supervising five students.
2015- William Paton, ‘A Scottish Dealer in the Eighteenth-Century Roman Art Market’ (second supervisor with Jane Geddes) (Part Time)
2017- Dikaia Gavala, ‘“Rise Before the Majesty of the People”: Popular Republicanism in Restoration Literature and Drama’ (second supervisor with Helen Lynch)
2018- Marcus Brabban, ‘Gustave Le Bon and the Emergence of Crowd Psychology’ (second supervisor with Thomas Weber)
2018- Aren Lehner, ‘The Influence of Scottish Common-Sense Philosophy on the Transcendentalist Movement, 1800-1865’ (first supervisor with Beth Lord)
2020- Jordan Prothro, 'Common Sense Realism and Post-Kantian Idealism: The Struggle for Reality in Nineteenth-Century American Philosophy'
2007-2010 Daniel MacCannell, ‘Cultures of Proclamation: The Decline and Fall of the Anglophone News Process, 1460 – 1642’ (second supervisor with Peter Davidson).
2008-2011 Glen Doris, ‘The Scottish Enlightenment and the Abolition of Slavery’ (first supervisor with Cairns Craig) (AHRC funded)
2008-2011: John Hutton, ‘Émigré Networks: The Campbells in Eighteenth-Century Scotland and America’(first supervisor with Cairns Craig) (AHRC funded)
2008-2013: Anne Crerar, ‘Commerce and Constitutionalism: The English East India Company and Political Culture in Scotland and Ireland’ (joint supervisor with Andrew Mackillop)
2012-2014: Chloe Ross, ‘James Connolly and the Scottish and Irish Labour Movements’(took over supervision from Andrew Newby)
2009-2014: Sheena Hogan, ‘A Posthumous Publication: Francis Hutcheson’s System of Moral Philosophy (1755)’ (first supervisor with Karin Friedrich)
2009-2014: Raymond Whelan, William King, Bishop of Dublin in Philosophical Context (first supervisor with William G Naphy)
2011-2016: Daliah Bond, ‘The History of Scottish Chapbooks’(second supervisor with William G Naphy)
2012-2017: Xandra Bello, ‘Genre and Form in Adam Ferguson’s History of the Roman Republic’(first supervisor with Ralph O’Connor)
2012-2018: Theresa Antoff, ‘The Crimes of Katherine Nairn and Patrick Ogilvie’ (first supervisor with Elizabeth Macknight)
2014-2019: Rose Luminiello, ‘Irish and Polish Catholic Nationalism, 1870-1900: A Comparative Study’ (joint supervisor with Robert Frost)