I am a social and cultural historian of modern Britain concentrating on leisure, popular culture, gender and sexuality. A native Englishman, I did my professional training in Canada where I taught most of my career before moving to the US. My first book Leisure and Class in Victorian England bore the imprint of the new ‘cultural studies’ and class as a central dynamic in British society (as it still remains). Popular Culture and Performance in the Victorian City worked a broader theoretical and historiographical palette with attention to language, social action and the play of gender. Studies of the pub, music hall, theatre, and comic newspaper (and a short history of noise) reveal distinctive codes of humor, sociability and glamour, constituting a new populist mentalite of agency and affect in the shifting urban world of modernity and consumer capitalism. Currently I’m completing a book Fun Factories: British Music Hall and the Variety Stage, 1840-1960 including the neglected later history, the trademark humor as social text, and the lengthy influence of Americanisation. My experience as stage actor and jazz pianist helps to illuminate the role of performance in everyday life and its histories.
Visiting Professor, Department of History
Emeritus Professor of History, University of Manitoba
Department of History