Photo of David Dean

David Dean

Professor - early modern theatre, witchcraft, and political culture; hi/storytelling through performance, historical representation (especially in theatre, film, reenactments, monuments, museums), historical controversies in the public sphere

Degrees:B.A. (Auckland), M.A. (Auckland), Ph.D. (Cambridge)
Phone:613-520-2600 x 2822
Office:444 Paterson Hall
Website:Professor Dean's website

David Dean specialises in public history, particularly historical representation and performance in museums, film, and theatre, and early modern British history. His most recent book is History, Memory, Performance (Palgrave, 2015), an award-winning interdisciplinary co-edited collection of essays exploring performances of the past in a variety of contexts. His edited book, A Companion to Public History (forthcoming 2017, Wiley-Blackwell) features 36 contributions from 18 different countries. David is editing an “Issues in Review” section of the journal Early Theatre on the Witch of Edmonton (for December 2018) and writing Shakespeare’s England: A Cultural History, 1558-1649 (with Dr Kathryn Prince, Wiley-Blackwell)In 2013 he guest edited a special issue of Peace and Conflict, focusing on Canadian museums as sites for historical understanding and social justice. His most recent article is an exploration of the film depiction of the Elizabethan Settlement in Shekhar Kapur’s Elizabeth. David organised last year’s Shannon Lectures in History on the theme Performing History: Re-Staging the Past.

After completing his Cambridge doctorate, David taught at Goldsmiths’ College, University of London for eleven years before coming to Carleton where he has been Full Professor since 2000. From 2008 until 2012 David was Company Historian to Ottawa’s National Art Centre’s English Theatre, working on productions such as Macbeth, Mother Courage, the Christmas Carol, Romeo and JulietVimy and King Lear. One of the founding members of the Department’s MA in Public History, which he co-ordinated for six years, David was co-founder of the Carleton Centre for Public History, and currently shares the directorship with Dr James Opp. David’s current teaching repertoire includes undergraduate courses such as Early Modern Britain, History at the Movies, and a seminar on early modern witchcraft and social disorder, as well as the core MA in Public History seminar on Museums, Public Memory and National Identify and an optional seminar, Narrativity and Performance in Public History. He has supervised thirty-six postgraduates over the past seven years.

David has been active in Ottawa’s Workers’ History Museum as a collaborator, advisor and patron; he is a Life Member of Clare Hall, Cambridge and a Fellow of Britain’s Royal Historical Society. A member of the editorial board of Early Theatre, David is also an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Theatre, University of Ottawa. David is also an elected member of the Steering Committee of the International Federation for Public History.

Research Interests

  • Performing History, Remaking History (SSHRC and CU funded)
  • accuracy, authenticity, and historical representation in theatre, re-enactment, and film
  • dramaturgy, controversies and historical representation in museums
  • Early Modern British political, social and cultural history

Some of his articles (on theatre, museums, the Elizabethan lottery) are available on


David received the 2015 FASS Research Award and the 2015 FASS Teaching Award. In 2016 David received the Provost’s Fellowship in Teaching Award and was part of the Public History Management team that won the University’s Building Connections Award

Current Graduate Students

Ashley Clarkson:”Museums and Intangible Heritage” [PhD, co-supervisor]

Rick Duthie:”Theatre and Labour History” [PhD, co-supervisor]

Emily Barsanti-Innes, Representations of the Holocaust in Museums [MA Public History]

Lisa Bullock Historical Games [MA Public History, co-supervisor]

Ruthanne Edward: Performance and Public History [MA History, co-supervisor]

Meredith Comba: “We are Amusing”: Queen Victoria in Popular Culture and in Popular Memory [MA Public History]

Kelsey Bodechon: Representing Early Modern Medicine in Museums [MA Public History]

Denise Steeves: Chocolate Museums [MA in Public History, co-supervisor]

Recent Graduate Students

Emily Keyes: A Murder Mystery in the Ottawa Valley [MA Public History]

Sara McGillivray: Heritage and Tourism: A Study of Downton Abbey [MA Public History]

Laurel Rowe: Early Modern Witchcraft: A Graphic Novel [MA History]

David is accepting graduate students for Public history and Early Modern British history, and welcomes inquiries about specific areas of supervision.

For more information please visit his website.