Professor David Nash

Professor in History

David Nash was previously at the Universities of Leicester and York where he taught primarily 19th and twentieth century British History. He is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and an officer of the Social History Society of Great Britain.

David is a Director of the SOLON project which links a number of University Departments in studying the interdisciplinary dimensions of crime and bad behaviour from both contemporary and historical perspectives. He is also a Director of the Center for Inquiry (London).



  • U67505 Disunited Kingdoms
  • U67531 Crime and Punishment in 19th Century Britain
  • U67532 Jack the Ripper and the Victorian Underworld
  • U67527 Witchcraft and Magic in Early Modern Europe
  • U67560 Murder, Mayhem, Modernity - Crime in 20th century Britain and America
  • U67580 Primary Sources


  • Religion, Doubt and Secularism in Victorian England
  • Crime and Punishment


Radicalism in Britain, blasphemy, the history of religion and the cultural history of law and crime.

Research interests

Blasphemy, history of shame, blame and culpability, links between religion and crime, history of secularisation, history of radicalism and the affinities all these have with cultural history.

Immediate research projects

Completing monograph (with Anne-Marie Kilday) 'Shame and Modernity' for Palgrave Publishing

Forthcoming projects

Also researching for a project on the relationship between Religion and Law since 1600 and an extension of the 'Stories of Belief' project to now include secular stories of unbelief.


Conference papers given since 2003

  • ‘Blasphemy: legislating then, legislating now’ to Centre for the Study of Hate Crime/SOLON Conference. Hate Crime in Perspective, February 2003.
  • Featured Round Table participant in ‘Future of Hate Crime Studies’ panel at this same conference.
  • ‘Republicanism in England: A middle class cultural triumph?. To Midlands Victorian Studies Seminar, Birmingham University, May 2003.
  • ‘Religious Citizenship or Religious Identity? Historical Perspectives on a Conundrum’. To Law Seminar Oxford Brookes University, June 2003.
  • 'Secular geographies of London'. To Conference London Politics 1815-1914. Institute of Historical Research, June 2003.
  • ‘Blasphemy and Golobalisation’ to Conference. Citoyennete, empires, mondialisation, Universite Blaise Pascal, Clermont Ferrand, September 2003.
  • ‘Punishing the Profaners. The place of Order and Retribution in Punishing blasphemous Crimes. Social History Society Conference, Rouen, France, January 2004.
  • ‘Profane paradigms; Blasphemy in early modern Europe. To ESSH conference, Berlin, March 2004.
  • ‘Blasphemous evils and evil Blasphemies’ To Conference The nature of evil, Mansfield College, Oxford, July 2004.
  • ‘Blasphemy, violence and the anti-Civilising process. Social History Society Conference, Dublin, Ireland, January 2005.
  • March 2005 ‘Blasphemy the helpmate of evil’ to conference ‘Religion and Evil’ Freij University Amsterdam/TroppenMuseum.
  • November 2005 Opening Featured Keynote Speech (funded) at ‘Blasphemy and the Sacrilegous’ Centre for Humanities Research, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.
  • April 2006 ‘Blasphemy and the emergence of the modern State’ Social History Society Annual Conference, Reading.
  • March 2007 ‘Models of ‘passive’ and ‘active’ blasphemy’. Social History Society Annual Conference, Exeter
  • July 2007 ‘The ‘children of the brain’ face the ‘Herod of authority’ Blasphemy’s past and its shadow over our present and our future. Featured Keynote speech to ‘Theory, Faith, Culture – an interdisciplinary international conference, University of Cardiff
  • September 2007 Opening Featured Keynote Speech Law Religion and Culture Conference, University of Lancaster
  • Seminar Series ‘Law and Crime: Past into Present’ in conjunction with the Centre for Legal Research and Policy Studies (Oxford Brookes) 2003 onwards.
  • Keynote lecture as Inaugral event of the Religion and Philosophy Conference at the Catholic Institute of Sydney (October 2008).
  • Keynote Lecturer to the Conference of Sweden's National Church in Stockholm (december 2009).
  • Other international papers given since 2007 in Oxford, Utrecht, St Petersburg, Lyon, Amsterdam, Warwick, Lison, Trinity College Dublin, London, Keele, Helsinki, Tampere and Bordeaux.
  • Addressed atheist Congress Dublin (June 2011)
  • Invited to Brief Member of the Irish Parliament on the issue of blasphemy (February 2012).
  • Addressed the Irish Constitutional Convention about blasphemy law repeal (November 2013).

Membership of professional bodies

Fellow of the Royal Historical Society


Consultancy to the National Secular Society regarding repeal of the blasphemy laws in Britain. Also consultancy with the National Secualr Society regarding the administration of religious oaths in parliamentary democracies. In 2003 gave evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee on Religious Offences.


  • Books
  • Journal articles
  • Book chapters
  • Other


  • Secularism, Art and Freedom (Pinter Press, 1992)
  • Blasphemy in Modern Britain 1789-present (Ashgate Publishing, 1999)
  • Blasphemy in the Christian World (Oxford University Press, 2007)
  • Cultures of Shame: Exploring Crime and Morality in Britain, 1600-1900 (With Anne-Marie Kilday. Palgrave Macmillan, 2010)
  • Christian Ideas in British Society: Stories of Belief in the Twentieth Century (Palgrave Macmillan 2013)

Edited volumes

  • Leicester in the Twentieth Century, edited with David Reeder (Alan Sutton, 1993).
  • Republicanism in Victorian Society eds. D.S. Nash and A Taylor (Sutton Publishing, 2000)
  • Histories of Crime: Britain 1600-2000 eds. A. Kilday and D.S. Nash (2010, Palgrave Macmillan
  • Blame, Shame and Culpability: Crime and Violence in the Modern State eds. J Rowbotham, M. Muravyeva and D.S. Nash (2013, Routledge)
  • Profane: Sacrilegous Expression in a Multicultural Age eds. C. Grenda, C Beneke and D.S. Nash (2014, University of California Press)

Book Series Editing

  • General Editor of Palgrave Macmillan series Histories of the Sacred and Secular.
  • Joint General Editor of SOLON Explorations in Crime and Criminal Justice Histories.


Textbooks and learning packages

  • 'How Cruel was the 1834 Poor Law?' Introductory Essay for the HIDES computer learning package 'How Cruel was the 1834 Poor Law?' (University of Southampton, 1995).
  • Oberon: Aims Methods and Techniques of Historical Study online learning course (with Anne-Marie Kilday) Oxford Brookes University.

Journal articles

  • ‘Legal definitions of religion in historical context: Toleration versus freedom? – Some lessons from blasphemy.’ Journal of Civil Liberties. November 2003. 131-150.
  • ‘Reconnecting religion with social and cultural history – Secularisation’s failure as a master narrative.’ Social and Cultural History. 2004; 1: 302-325.
  • ‘Blasphemy and wider deviance. Some English and French theoretical comparisons’. April 2005 issue of the Cahiers Victoriens et Edouardiens / published by the Université de Montpellier (Volume 61).
  • 'Hate and the State. Historical perspectives on hate crime and its definition.’ With Chara Bakalis (Law Dept. Oxford Brookes University). Liverpool Law Review (2007)
  • ‘Placing Blasphemy in Social History. Analyzing theoretical approaches to the history of religious crime.’ Journal of Social History (September 2007)
  • '"To prostitute morality, libel religion, and undermine government.' Blasphemy and the strange persistence of providence in Britain since the seventeenth century. Journal of Religious History (Autumn 2008)
  • 'Reassessing the 'Crisis of Faith' in the Victorian Age: Eclecticism and the spirit of moral inquiry.'  Journal of Victorian Culture  (Spring 2011).

Book chapters

  • 'Taming the God of Battles. Humanitarian critiques of the Second Boer War.' Ed. G. Cuthbertson Writing a Wider War. (Ohio University Press, 2002). pp266-286
  • ‘The Blast of Blasphemy- - Law and Society confront a chill wind’ in J. Rowbotham and K. Stevenson Behaving Badly: Visible Crime, Social Panics and Legal Responses – Victorian and Modern Parallels (Ashgate 2003)
  • ‘Blasphemy, Violence and the Anti-Civilising Process’ in ed K Watson, Assaulting the Past: Placing Violence in Historical Context. Cambridge Scholars Press (2007).
  • ‘Learning from the Colonies: English Republicans, India and the attack upon the Aristocratic Empire’ in Citoyennete, Empires et Mondialisation ed. Timothy et Raphaelle Espiet-Kilty, Presses Universitaires Blaise Pascal (Spring 2007)
  • ‘Secularism in the City. London Freethought. and Geographies of dissidence in the Nineteenth Century Metropolis’ in eds A. Taylor and M. Cragoe  London Radicalism(Palgrave 2006).
  • 'Blasphemy, censorship and government imperatives' in eds.N Cloarec and E Dardenne Censorship and Discourse in English Speaking Countries (2012)
  • 'Atheism and Secualrization'. Oxford Bibliographies (2013)
  • 'Re-evaluating shame in modern social historical contexts.' in eds B. Sere and J. Wettlaufer Shame: Between Punishment and Penance Micrologus (2013)
  • 'Towards an agenda for the wider study of shame; theorising from nineteenth-century British evidence. in eds. J Rowbotham, M. Muravyeva and D.S. Nash Shame, Blame and Culpability: Crime, violence and the Modern State. (Routledge 2013)
  • 'Blasphemy and Witchcraft - a gendered mirror image? in eds. K. Reyes and M. Muravyeva Gender in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe (Routledge 2013)
  • 'Atheism in the long nineteenth century' in ed. S Bullivant The Oxford Handbook of Atheism (OUP 2014).


Reference articles

  • Blasphemy, 1883 Freethinker prosecution, Unstamped Press agitation of the 1830s for Censorship: An International Encyclopedia (ed. Derek Jones) (Fitzroy Dearborn, 2002)
  • 'The Victorian republicans ' Article for BBC History Magazine (December 2001)
  • 'Perish Judah, Save Britain' Article for BBC History Magazine (August 2004)
  • ‘Thomas Paine’s republic of opinion’ Journal of Radical History Volume 7 no.3 (Autumn 2004)
  • 'Blasphemous Britons' BBC History Magazine (August 2007)
  • 'The Gain from Thomas Paine' History Today Volume 59 Issue 6 (2009)
  • 'The Chartists: Charting a future for democracy' History Today Volume 60 Issue 5 (2010)
  • 'Blasphemers in the Pillory' BBC History Magazine (2010)
  • 'Green Shirts and Social Credit' BBC History Magazine (2013)