Document Actions

Dr Sean Brady

BA(Hons), MA (London), PhD (London)
Lecturer in Modern British and Irish History

Contact details

Department of History, Classics and Archaeology
Birkbeck, University of London
Room 401
28 Russell Square

Tel: 020 7631 6378


  • Dr Sean Brady joined the department in 2005, following the completion of his PhD at Birkbeck. In 2006-2008, he was a Leverhulme postdoctoral fellow in the department at Birkbeck, and has been lecturer in the department since the completion of this fellowship.

Research interests

  • My research focuses on gender, sexuality, politics and religion in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Britain and Ireland.
  • My book, Masculinity and Male Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-1913, examines masculinity and attitudes to homosexuality in Britain before the First World War. Cultural abhorrence of sexuality between men is examined through developments in masculinity as a social status. The book explores these themes in relation to the family, married homosexual men, legislation and the Home Office, the medical profession and journalism. My interests focus also on masculinities in the longue durée, and the potentials for comparative approaches in the history of gender and sexuality.
  • My current research also examines religion and sectarianism in relation to masculinities in Northern Ireland after 1921, and I am working on a book, Northern Ireland: A Gendered History

Teaching interests

  • 'The Two Irelands 1911-1998': option is open to postgraduate students on MA History of the British Isles; MA Historical Research; MA History of Ideas; MA/MSc Gender, Sexuality and Culture; MA Culture, Diaspora, Ethnicity (Dept. of Psychosocial Studies); MA Contemporary History and Politics; MA European History; MA Nationalism and Ethnic Conflict (Dept. of Politics). Students on this module examine the history of cultures, society, politics and religion in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in the twentieth century. The module also examines Britain’s troubled relationship with the two Irelands, and the place of Ireland, north and south, in the European and broader international community. Through study of interdisciplinary scholarship and new primary sources, postgraduate students examine the history of politics, culture, conflict and terrorism, civil war, the break up of the United Kingdom, devolution, religious extremism, gender and sexuality, civil society, concepts of peace, sectarianism, emigration, and religion.
  • 'Religion in Society and Politics: Britain and Ireland, 1801-2001’: This is an MA course unit for students on MA History of Britain, MA History of Ideas, MA Historical Research, MA European History and MA Contemporary History and Politics. This course examines the 'special place' of religion in modern Britain and Ireland. Though arguably one of the most secular societies in the modern world, Britain's constitutional and social arrangements have fostered and valorised religion, to an extent that separates it from other modern industrial societies. The course also examines the place of religion in the political and constitutional history of the United Kingdom, and of Britain's relationship with Ireland. In addition, the course aims to historicise fundamentalisms in contemporary British and Irish societies.
  • 'Family, Society and Culture in Britain, 1832-1918': Undergraduate special subject (group 3). This course introduces students to the study of Victorian family life, and examines themes such as childhood, old age, the Victorian way of death, education, married life, and developments in gender expectations. It also looks at the Victorian family and its discontents, exploring themes such as divorce, homosexuality, bachelorhood, and the spinster and her enemies. The course will involve study of documentary evidence, and the historiography of the family, gender, class and sexuality
  • 'Ireland from the Act of Union to Partition, 1801-1921': Undergraduate Group 2 option. This course introduces students to the political, social, cultural and religious history of Ireland in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It also examines Ireland's troubled relationship with Britain, and the effects and place of 'the Irish Question' in British politics and culture, up to the creation of the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland.
  • I also teach on the Group 1 course, 'Britain since 1750', with Joanna Bourke and Frank Trentmann.
  • I am co-course director for MA History of Ideas.

PhD supervision

  • Gender, Sexuality, Politics and Religion in Britain and Ireland after 1800.


  • Books
  • The Palgrave Handbook of Masculinity and Popular Culture in Europe, Sean Brady, Christopher Fletcher, Rachel Moss and Lucy Riall (eds.), Palgrave Macmillan 2018
  • John Addington Symonds (1840-1893) and Homosexuality: A Critical Edition of Sources, Palgrave Macmillan, 2012
  • What is Masculinity? Historical Dynamics from Antiquity to the Contemporary World, Sean Brady & John H. Arnold (eds.), Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.
  • Masculinity and Male Homosexuality in Britain, 1861 - 1913, Palgrave Macmillan, 2005 & 2009
  • Articles and chapters
  • 'Rethinking Gender and Labour History', co-authored with Sonya Rose, in John Arnold, Matthew Hilton and Jan Rüger (eds.), History after Hobsbawm: Writing the Past for the Twenty-First Century (Oxford University Press 2017)
  • 'John Addington Symonds, Horatio Brown and Venice: Friendship, Gondoliers and Homosexuality', in Valeria Babibi, Chiara Beccalossi, and Lucy Riall (eds.), Italian Sexualities Uncovered, 1789-1914, Palgrave Macmillan 2015
  • 'Why examine men, masculinities and religion in Northern Ireland', in Lucy Delap and Sue Morgan (eds.), Men, Masculinities and Religious Change in Twentieth-Century Britain, Palgrave Macmillan 2013.
  • 'Homosexuality: European and Colonial Encounters' in A Cultural History of Sexuality in the Age of Empire, Chiara Beccalossi and Ivan Crozier (eds.), Berg, Oxford, 2011
  • 'Masculinity and the Construction of Male Homosexuality in Modern Britain before the First World War', in Meyer, J, & Ellis, H, (eds.), Masculinity and the Other: Historical Perspectives, Cambridge Scholars Press, 2009.
  • 'Masculinity and the Question of Male Homosexuality in Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth-Century Britain', in Gender History (Japan), vol. 4, 2008, pp. 69-86.
  • 'All About Eve? Queer Theory and History' in Journal of Contemporary History, vol. 4 (1), Jan 2006, pp. 185-195


Honours and awards

  • Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship, 2006-2008

Current activities

  • My current research examines religion and sectarianism in relation to masculinities in Northern Ireland after 1921, and I am working on a book, Northern Ireland: A Gendered History.
  • Along with Dr Matt Cook, Dr Julia Laite and historians from across the country, I am a convener for the new History of Sexuality seminar series at the Institute of Historical Research (IHR), London. The new seminar series will be launched on Tuesday 7th January 2014 at 6 p.m. At this event, a roundtable of speakers will discuss the question 'What is the History of Sexuality?'. Please click here for more details for this launch event and seminar, and also for information about other IHR seminars.
  • I am convening editor for Palgrave Macmillan's series 'Genders and Sexualities in History'.