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BA (East Anglia) Phd. (York)
School of History, Philosophy and Culture
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
+44 (0)1865 483584`
Headington Campus, Tonge Block, T451a
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.
David Nash teaches the fundamentals of history in the first year. He has a particualr passion for understanding how individuals grasp the necesssity of history and the mechanisms that make it function to produce valuable insight upon the past and our contemporary world. His teaching in the area of the history of criminal justice frequently makes use of the micro-history or case study method which he has pioneered alongside Professor Anne-Marie Kilday. His research specialism on the history of blasphemy is taught at M.A. level and beyond, although he welcomes inquiries from undergraduate dissertation or ISM students interesed in this area.
Professor Nash has supervised MA dissertations on the subjects of blasphemy, shame and many aspects of the history of crime. His Phd. supervisions include a completed thesis on the history of moral education (Susannah Wright, 2006) and one on the twentieth century history of the secular movement (Liz Lutgendorf, 2019). He welcomes applications from students interested in aspects of the history of blasphemy, the history of shame, the hisotry of secularism in Britain and the history of secularisation.
Radicalism in Britain, blasphemy, the history of religion, the history of atheism, the history of shame and the cultural history of law and crime.
Blasphemy, history of shame, blame and culpability, links between religion and crime, history of secularisation, history of atheism, history of radicalism and the affinities all these have with cultural history.
Professor Nash is a member of the History of Crime research group in the School of History, Philosophy and Culture.
Professor Nash is a member of the Religion and Belief research group in the School of History, Philosophy and Culture.
2012 Marie Curie Fellowship grant of 309,000 Euro.
2018 Co-Investigator on Humanism in Britain Project (with Callum Brown) awarded £68,000 for Humanism in Britain volume.
Completing monograph (with C.Brown, and C. Lynch), The Humanist Movement 1896-2021: Ethicists, Humanists and Rationalists in Modern Britain. Bloomsbury, 2022. In press.
Completing edited book (with E.Bouwers) eds. Blasphemy and Violence (De Gruyter) 2022. In press. Contributing a chapter to this volume
Completing edited book with J. Wettlaufer and J. Frode Hatlen) Shame and Honor in Europe (Routledge) 2022. In press. Contributing two chapters to this volume.
Also researching for a project on 'blackmail' and an extension of the 'Stories of Belief' project to now include secular stories of unbelief.
Impact Statement submitted with 2014 REF ‘Seeking Blasphemy Repeal in Ireland’ (rated 4*). Impact statement continued as ‘Achieving Blasphemy Repeal in Ireland’ to be submitted for REF 2020. This outlines my direct involvement in the repeal of the 2009 Blasphemy law in Ireland which was removed after a referendum vote in October 2018. Again this has been internally audited as 4* top rated Impact Statement.
Have commenced Impact statement for 2026 ‘Engaging Public Awareness of Humanist and Secular History’ currently writing popular anniversary history of the movement and working with the Humanist Heritage Project on their committee. Planning a series of events around archive holdings and the eventual launch of the book 2022 onwards.
For full details of my Impact Case study on Blasphemy repeal in Ireland see
For the full text of my article for History Ireland on Ireland's blasphemy laws and their history:
For the full text of my article for History Today on the Gay News Blasphemy Case of 1977 see:
Adopting a microhistory approach, Fair and Unfair Trials in the British Isles, 1800-1940 provides an in-depth examination of the evolution of the modern justice system. Drawing upon criminal cases and trials from England, Scotland, and Ireland, the book examines the errors, procedural systems, and the ways in which adverse influences of social and cultural forces impacted upon individual instances of justice.
The book investigates several case studies of both justice and injustice which prompted the development of forensic toxicology, the implementation of state propaganda and an increased interest in press sensationalism. One such case study considers the trial of William Sheen, who was prosecuted and later acquitted of the murder of his infant child at the Old Baily in 1827, an extraordinary miscarriage of justice that prompted outrage amongst the general public. Other case studies include trials for treason, theft, obscenity and blasphemy. Nash and Kilday root each of these cases within their relevant historical, cultural, and political contexts, highlighting changing attitudes to popular culture, public criticism, protest and activism as significant factors in the transformation of the criminal trial and the British judicial system as a whole.
Drawing upon a wealth of primary sources, including legal records, newspaper articles and photographs, this book provides a unique insight into the evolution of modern criminal justice in Britain. -- Supplied by publisher.
A phenomenon that spans human experience, from the ancient world right up to today’s ferocious religious debates, blasphemy is an act of individuals, but also a widespread and constant presence in cultural, political and religious life. Acts Against God is the first accessible history of this crime – its prosecution, its impact and its punishment and suppression.
The book begins in ancient Greece with the genesis of blasphemy’s link with the state. From here we move on to blasphemy in the medieval world, in the Reformation and the Enlightenment. The book concludes with the twenty-first century, with individuals and the state seeking to adopt blasphemy as the means to resist the secular and the globalization of culture.
This monograph traces the use, abuse and negotiation of the concept of shame from 1600-1900. The book shows good and bad behaviour, morality and perceptions of crime in British society at large, and identifies the changing interaction between popular and official notions of shame. Each of the chapters is a single episode in the ongoing history of shame contextualized by two chapters which discuss the historiography and theory of shame and their implications for the history of crime and social relations. The wide acceptance and utility of shame, as the early episodes in the book suggest, became manifestly less obvious during the eighteenth century. The traditional uses and functions of shame were questioned, yet the growth of the public sphere allowed some of its messages to become recast in modern forms. The last examples in the book demonstrate shame's longevity and relevance beyond the arrival of modernity.
Providing a rounded and coherent history of crime and the law spanning the past 400 years, Histories of Crime explores the evolution of attitudes towards crime and criminality over time. Bringing together contributions from internationally acknowledged experts, the book highlights themes, current issues and key debates in the history of deviance and bad behaviour, including:marital cruelty and adultery, infanticide, murder. the underworld, blasphemy and moral crimes, fraud and white-collar crime, the death penalty and punishment. Individual case studies of violent and non-violent crime are used to explore the human means and motives behind criminal practice. Through these, the book illuminates society's wider attitudes and fears about criminal behaviour and the way in which these influence the law and legal system over time. This fascinating book is essential reading for students and teachers of history, sociology and criminology, as well as anyone interested in Britain's criminal past.
This article provides a survey of the growth and development of historiography about both Secularism and the wider secular movement since the onset of the nineteenth century. It analyses and highlights the main themes and their advocates as well as suggesting what historiographical developments we might be likely to see in the future.
This article examines the new offence of inciting religious hatred under the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006. A historical analysis of existing provisions aimed at legislating against racial hatred and blasphemy is adopted, in order to determine whether the creation of this new offence is justified and necessary. We conclude that although the new offence may fulfil an important symbolic role in a post September 11th environment, in its current form the legislation has not taken sufficient account of the precedent of racial hatred and blasphemy laws, or of more general questions about the criminalisation of hatred.
The nineteenth century is the first century in which definitions circumvented the globe, promoting discussion of their helpfulness in describing the universe that humankind found itself within. This impetus is especially exemplified by the growth of unbelief into a movement in the nineteenth century. From its inception right through to its mutation in the twentieth century it would, throughout, be obsessed with such words and labels. Oftentimes these were attempts to escape from the unhelpfulness of a previous label as much as to forge something innovative and helpful with a new one.
This chapter investigates the construction of the blasphemy provisions of the Indian Criminal Code of 1860 and its subsequent revisions. This is shown to have a substantial afterlife as a touchstone of potential multicultural significance in refereeing between the competing claims of different religious groups. As such, it has regularly been invoked as a possible solution to issues facing countries seeking to move beyond protection for a state religion to a wider recognition of the rights of all the religious. The Code’s provisions also seemed attractive because they focussed upon apparently equalising conceptions of public order, but the politics surrounding this often served to inhibit the wholesale adoption of its provisions.
A chapter on witchcraft in film, one that appears in a book primarily about the history of the phenomenon clearly has a different purpose than the numerous treatments of witchcraft that appear in film studies and popular culture volumes. Thus, this chapter will consider several of the central themes thrown up by numerous depictions of witchcraft in film and will focus upon these in specific examples. Perhaps one overarching theme that cultural historians should most be interested in is how depictions of witchcraft in film have been a communicative and exploratory device. That is, they should be regarded as methods by which the public at large learn aspects of otherwise specialist or academic knowledge. As such, they have a crucial role in shaping popular perception of the particular phenomena depicted. This chapter displays illustrations of witchcraft practice, vivid re-creations of what particular periods of historiography have established as fact and interpretation and, lastly, a variety of themes which seek to place witchcraft in a wider historical and cultural context. As such, these have lasting influence upon popular perceptions of witchcraft and the occult. Indeed we might consider how far some of these depictions have become cultural archetypes in themselves, further influencing cultural products and outputs about this particular subject.
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.
For my article on passive and active blasphemy see:
See my latest book on blasphemy:
Sunday Post review of my latest book Acts Against God:
For my podcast on blasphemy for ABC Radio see:
Review of Blasphemy in the Christian World: