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David Dean

Full Professor - public history (hi/storytelling through performance; historical representations in film, theatre, museums; historical controversies in the public sphere; transnational public history) and early modern England (early modern theatre, witchcraft, and political culture).

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 and early modern British history. His most recent publications include A Companion to Public History (Wiley-Blackwell, 2018) featuring 36 contributions from 18 different countries. He was guest editor for the journal Early Theatre (December 2018) editing an “issues in review” on Dekker, Rowley, and Ford’s intriguing 1624 play, The Witch of Edmonton. He was co-editor of History, Memory, Performance (Palgrave, 2015), and another, Migration and Stereotypes in Performance and Culture, is forthcoming in 2019. This includes a co-authored essay (with Helin Burkay) on performing Canadian identity through food. Other forthcoming publications include “Living History” in Vanessa Agnew, Jonathan Lamb and Juliane Tomann, The Routledge Handbook of Reenactment Studies. His current book projects include Shakespeare’s England: A Cultural History, 1558-1649 (with Kathryn Prince) and a graphic novel on the life of Elizabeth Sawyer, the witch of Edmonton (with Laurel Rowe). He is co-organizing this year’s Society for the History of Emotions conference here in Ottawa in October, 2019.

David is project lead of Capital History Kiosks, telling local histories through installations on traffic control boxes throughout the city of Ottawa and an associated website, n partnership with local design firm Chapter One and with Ottawa’s Workers’ History Museum with whom he has been a long-standing activist, collaborator, and patron. The project’s original seventeen installations for 2017, will soon be joined by another dozen for the National Capital Commission’s 120th anniversary (2019). David is also a member of the board of Capital Heritage Connexion. From 2008 until 2012 David was Company Historian to Ottawa’s National Art Centre’s English Theatre and is an adjunct professor with the Department of Theatre, University of Ottawa. He is a Life Member of Clare Hall, Cambridge and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

David is an elected member of the steering committee of the International Federation for Public History and co-editor of the new journal, International Public History. His public history research has been published in journals such as The Public Historian, Public History Weekly, the Journal of American History, Parliamentary History, Unbound, Memoria e Ricerca, and Re-thinking History. He speaks regularly at international public history conferences and most recently delivered a keynote lecture on “Publics and Public History: Beyond Representation” at the Jean Monnet Conference on Publics and Public History, Wroclaw, Poland (March, 2019). In 2019-2020 he will be leading workshops on public history in Indonesia and Sri Lanka.

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. One of the founding members of the Department’s MA in Public History, which he currently co-ordinates, David was co-founder of the Carleton Centre for Public History, and currently shares the directorship with Dr John Walsh. His current teaching repertoire includes undergraduate courses such as Public History from Memory to Museums, Early Modern Britain, History at the Movies, and a seminar on early modern witchcraft and social disorder, as well as the core introductory seminar for the MA in Public History and an elective, Narrativity and Performance in Public History. He has supervised over forty postgraduates over the past decade.

Research Interests

  • Performing History, Remaking History and Performing Diaspora through Food (both 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

Rick Duthie, “One Day Stronger”: Sudbury’s Strikes (PhD, co-supervisor)

Lisa Bullock, I learned it from a board game’: performing historical narratives in Expedition: Northwest Passage (MA, co-supervisor)

Jenna Emslie, Public history and labour history (MA, Public History)

Kate Jordan, Early modern theatre and its publics (MA, Public History)

Nick Leckey, Historical representation and heritage in Ottawa (MA, Public History)

Meghan Newman, Tudor women and religion (MA, History, co-supervisor)

Rachel Scott, Space, perception, and historical memory (MA, Public History, co-supervision)

Recent Graduate Students (last three years)

Emily Barsanti-Innes, Facilitating Holocaust Education in Ontario Secondary Schools

Kelsey Bodechon, Creating an Immersive Experience: A Digital Exhibit on T.D. Cumberland in the First World War, The Hidden Story of a Soldier (and Website)

Meredith Comba,“We are Amusing”: Queen Victoria in Popular Culture and in Popular Memory

Rowen Germain, Katherine Parr at Hampton Court: A Performance Analysis of “A Queen in Danger”

Alexandra Mclean, Michael Collins: Presenting Historical Narratives that Work

Natalie Picard, Education Kits for the Classroom: Reflections on Taking an Object-Based Approach to Teaching Japanese Canadian Internment (includes Museum Education Kit for schools)

Laurel Rowe, Contains Scenes of a Graphic Nature: Reconstructing the East Anglia Witchcraze

Denise Steeves, Unboxing Social History: The Importance of 19th and 20th Century Chocolate Boxes in Chocolate Museums

David welcomes inquiries about specific areas of supervision.

For more information please visit his website.