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Professor of Modern History, University of Portsmouth

Dave is a historian of the French Revolution, and of the social and cultural history of conflicts in Europe and the Atlantic world more generally in the period between the 1760s and 1840s. He has written a number of books, of which the best-known is probably The Terror, (London: Little, Brown, 2005), and recently edited a major collection of essays, The Oxford Handbook of the French Revolution, (Oxford: OUP, 2015). He also regularly gives lectures and workshops for A-level students, and has written the Connell Guide to the French Revolution, (London: Connell, 2016) especially for this cohort.

Dave is currently the President of the Society for the Study of French History, which makes available a range of support for postgraduate researchers through its website: He is committed to furthering equality and diversity within the community of French historians in the UK, and has recently overseen the introduction of the Society’s first Conference Code of Practice with this in mind.

His personal research interests embrace the ways in which the conscious and unconscious norms of pre-1789 French society and culture collided with the new conditions created by revolutionary upheaval, and the extent to which many of the subsequent conflicts developed from such collisions. He is interested in the current focus on emotions in revolutionary history, but believes that we need to dig deeper into how feelings drove action, on the one hand, and on the other were incorporated into narratives of identity and plotting that fitted existing cultural forms. An example of his writing on the subject is here:

Dave has taught widely across the undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at Portsmouth, and currently delivers core teaching on methodologies - What is history? How do we do it? What tools are most useful to help us answer different kinds of questions? - as well as contributing his specialist knowledge of eighteenth-century and revolutionary France to first- and third-year modules.

He is interested in supervising PhD research projects in any area of French history from the later eighteenth century through to the mid nineteenth, with a particular focus on the social and cultural history of the 1789 Revolution, and subsequent revolutionary episodes down to 1848-51. He is also interesting in potential comparative projects on revolution and resistance in the Atlantic world in the same period.

Fellow of the Royal Historical Society
Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
Board member and Trustee of the Society for the Study of French History


  • –present
    Professor of Modern History, University of Portsmouth


  • 1995 
    University of York, DPhil History