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Dr Stewart McCain

Programme Director - History

About Research

Dr Stewart McCain works on the social and cultural history of Western Europe, with a particular focus on the relationships between linguistic diversify and state building in nineteenth century France.  He is interested in the ways in which states develop administrative knowledge about the populations and territories they administer, in how these visions of social and cultural realities inform and legitimise state action, and in the ways local actors respond to and shape these efforts. 

His forthcoming monograph on linguistic imperialism under Napoleon explores the practical development and limits of this dimension of state power in Europe, as well as the responses of local elites and administrators to state demands for monolingualism in key institutions such as schools, the church and the law courts.

Before moving to St Mary's in January 2016, Dr McCain taught History at the Universities of Winchester, Aston and Oxford. He completed his DPhil at Oxford, and was the RHS PJ Marshall fellow at the Institute of Historical Research in 2013/14. At the 2014 annual conference of the Society for French Historical Studies he organised a research panel on Modernity and its Discontents alongside two other doctoral researchers from the UK, supported by a grant from the Society for the Study of French History.

Dr McCain's teaching interests reflect his research, focusing on the Revolutionary and Napoleonic period in France as well as the changing relationship between the state and society in nineteenth century Europe. He also supervises third year dissertations and independent study projects.

Modules Convened:

  • Revolution and Empire in France, 1789-1914
  • States, Nations and Peoples in Nineteenth Century Europe 
  • War and Society




  • The Language Question under Napoleon (under contract with Palgrave Macmillan) 

Journal Articles: 

  • 'Speaking like a State? Cultural Imperialism, Local Officials and Linguistic Particularism in the Napoleonic Enquiry into the Patois, 1806-12', French History vol.29, no.4 (2015) 
  • 'Justifying Conspiracy and Legitimizing Political Violence in Restoration France', Retrospectives vol.2 (2013)