Brian Cowan has held appointments at Yale University and the University of Sussex before coming to McGill University in 2004. He studies the social and cultural history of ideas in early modern Britain and Europe and is particularly interested in the ways in which ideas were communicated in the preindustrial world.
He is the author of The Social Life of Coffee: The Emergence of the British Coffeehouse, (Yale University Press: New Haven and London, 2005), which was awarded the Wallace K. Ferguson Prize by the Canadian Historical Association in 2006. His latest book, The State Trial of Doctor Henry Sacheverell(Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, forthcoming) lays the groundwork for a new understanding the most important political trial of the eighteenth century. His additional publications on the history of early modern taste have ranged from studies of art auctions and connoisseurship to gastronomy and food writing.
Along with with Prof. Elizabeth Elbourne, he edits the Journal of British Studies (Univ. of Chicago Press) for the North American Conference on British Studies. He also serves on the editorial boards for the journals History Compass, and Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture for the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies.