Colleges, School and Institutes
I was born and raised in Northern Ireland and left there at 18 to read Modern History at the University of St Andrews, Scotland, where I first discovered a love of Reformation History. Thanks to the expertise and encouragement of the early-modernists at St Andrews, in particular Andrew Pettegree and Bruce Gordon, I stayed to pursue postgraduate study at St Andrews and was funded by the award of two scholarships: a one-year studentship from the Humanities Research Board of the British Academy to support the M.Litt. degree, and a Caledonian Research Foundation Scholarship to fund the PhD. Between 1999 and 2003 I also taught on a broad range of Modern History courses at the Universities of St Andrews and Edinburgh. I was appointed to my current post at the University of Birmingham in 2003.
I am currently Director of Education for the College of Arts and Law. I was an elected member of University Senate 2012-16 and Head of History 2015-18. I became the College’s first teaching-focussed Professor in 2018.
My first monograph, entitled Catholic Belief and Survival in Late-Sixteenth Century Vienna, was published by Ashgate in May 2007. Focused on the career of one of the most prominent Catholic figures of late sixteenth-century Vienna, Georg Eder (1523-1587), this work highlighted the role of the Catholic laity in instigating, enacting and supporting Catholic reform in the early-modern period.
I have also published work pertaining to Disaster History, East Central European History, and Reformation History more broadly (please see Publications section). I am currently planning an undergraduate-level textbook on the Habsburgs and sixteenth century Europe, as well as engaging in pieces of pedagogical research.
Willingness to take PhD students
My research interests have given me experience of and enthusiasm for a number of broader themes which I would be keen to supervise. These include aspects of early-modern Catholic reform, the Habsburg dynasty, early-modern politics, and the interaction between people and environment in early-modern Europe. Doctoral and MPhil students who I currently supervise or have supervised work on a range of topics:
Thomas Wood (co-supervision with Simone Laqua-O’Donnell): Dragons in early modern German religious culture (in progress)
Yasmin Vetter (co-supervision with Jonathan Willis): The Elizabethan Church and Marian Exile (in progress)
Laverne Smith (co-supervision with Nathan Cardon and Tom Cutterham): Anglican Virginia And Regular Baptists: A Reflection On The Effects Of Government-Regulated Toleration (in progress)
Tayler Meredith (co-supervision with Jonathan Willis): Divine Disorder: Environmental Change, Natural Disaster and English Communities, c.1550-1650 (in progress)
Ruth Atherton (co-supervision with Simone Laqua-O’Donnell): Pedagogy and Persuasion: The Power of the Catechism in Germany, 1529-1597 (successfully defended in 2017)
Charles Byrd II (co-supervision with Allan Anderson): Pentecostalism’s Anabaptist Heritage? (successfully defended in 2017)
George Doukas: The World of Pierre Boaistuau: Man, Sin and Nature in Early Modern Europe (successfully defended in 2011)
Adrian Roberts: Truth is Unkillable: Non-Resistance and ‘The Sword’ in the Theology of Balthasar Hubmaier, 1523-1528 (passed in 2012)
Lesley Smith (co-supervision in History of Medicine): John Ince’s Leech Book (passed 2015)