Skip navigation

Dr Laura OBrien

Lecturer in Modern European History

Department: Humanities

Laura -O;Brien Dr Laura joined Northumbria in September 2015, having previously taught at University College Dublin, Trinity College Dublin, Université Paris 1 (Panthéon-Sorbonne) and the University of Sunderland. She completed her PhD at University College Dublin, where she held an Irish Research Council ‘Government of Ireland’ Postgraduate Scholarship, and was a doctoral fellow at the UCD Humanities Institute. Between 2010 and 2013 Laura was an Irish Research Council/Marie Curie Actions COFUND Fellow, based at Trinity College Dublin and the Centre de recherches en histoire du XIXe siècle, Université Paris 1 (Panthéon-Sorbonne).

Campus Address

Lipman Building
City Campus
Newcastle Upon Tyne

0191 227 4666


PGCert in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, University of Sunderland, 2015

Irish Research Council-funded PhD, University College Dublin, 2009

BA (Hons) History, University College Dublin, 2004

Current Teaching Activity

Laura currently teaches on the following modules:

HI0401 The Making of Contemporary Europe

HI0407 Cultures, Structures and Ideas: Making Sense of Historical Concepts

HI0412 Making History

HI0535 Debating History

HI0702 Historical Contexts

HI0706 Digital History

From 2016/17 Laura will convene a second-year option module on France in an age of revolution, and a third-year option module on the cultural, political and social history of nineteenth-century Paris. 

Research Themes and Scholarly Interests

Laura’s research interests are primarily focused on the cultural, social and political history of modern Europe, with a particular interest in nineteenth and twentieth-century France.

Laura’s enduring interest in visual culture is reflected in the subject of her first book, The republican line: caricature and French republican identity, 1830-52 (Manchester University Press, 2015). This work shows how political caricature was used as a means of discussing, defining and articulating notions of republican identity during a turbulent period in modern French and European history, which coincided with a ‘golden age’ in French graphic satire.

Her current work looks at the construction of memories of revolution in France between 1848 and 1948, with a focus on two key research strands: writing the history of 1848 in the nineteenth century, including the impact of exile and transnational exchanges on the formation of these contemporary historical perspectives; and a study of revolution, commemoration and decolonisation in the 1948 centenary of the revolution of 1848. Laura is also developing her interests in religious history, with planned research projects including a study of the relationship between religion, society and conceptions of modernity in France and Europe in the second half of the nineteenth century.

Laura’s interdisciplinary approach to her research underpins and informs her teaching at all levels, most notably in her final-year module on revolution, culture and urban life in nineteenth-century Paris.

Laura is also active in the area of public engagement, contributing to The History Show on Irish national radio, and interested in the use of digital and social media as tools for historians. Follow Laura on Twitter: @lrbobrien   

Professional memberships and activities

Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA)

Head of Postgraduates and Advisory Group member, Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies

Postgraduate Supervision

Laura is happy to supervise postgraduate students wishing to research and write on the history of France since the Revolution; modern European cultural history; the history of revolution and insurgency in modern Europe; and the history of caricature.

Key Publications


The republican line: caricature and French republican identity (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2015)

Articles (peer-reviewed)

‘Cette nouvelle transformation du gamin de Paris: the figures of the Mobile Guard and vivandières in popular culture in 1848’ French History 25 (2011), pp337-61

Contributions to edited volumes

'Entre acteurs politiques et historiens: les auteurs des premières histoires de la révolution de 1848’in Q. Deluermoz and A. Glinoer (eds.), L’insurrection entre histoire et littérature 1789 – 1914 (Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne, 2015), pp71-80.          

‘La moralité des mouchards. Chenu, de la Hodde : une guerre des pamphlets’ in S. Hallade (ed.), Morales en révolutions. France, 1789 – 1940 (Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2015), pp99-108.

Other articles          

‘Between the bullet and the church: occultism, Satanism and Catholicism in the work of Joris-Karl Huysmans’, UCD History Review XV (2005), pp174-93.

Book reviews           

‘Voices of the People in Nineteenth-Century France, by David Hopkin’ English Historical Review CXXX (2015), pp227-8.

‘A Political Romance: Léon Gambetta, Léonie Léon and the making of the French republic, 1872 – 82, by Susan K. Foley and Charles Sowerwine’, European History Quarterly 44 (2014), pp324-5.

‘Écrire, calculer, classer. Comment une révolution de papier a transformé les sociétés contemporaines (1800-1940) by Delphine Gardey’, French History 23 (2009), 130 - 132. 

Media publications and blog posts

‘Intimate relationships: historians, the past, and their subjects’ [invited blog post], French History Network (19 November 2015),

‘Out from shadow of the guillotine’ [review article], The Irish Times (21 March 2015)

‘Twitter, academia and me’ [invited blog post], French History Network (19 February 2015),

Awards and Fellowships

2012: Society for the Study of French History /French History Article Prize, for ‘Cette nouvelle transformation du gamin de Paris: the figures of the Mobile Guard and vivandières in popular culture in 1848’ French History 25 (2011), available at 

2010-13: Irish Research Council/Marie Curie Actions Cara COFUND Postdoctoral Mobility Fellowship, Trinity College Dublin/Université Paris 1 (Panthéon-Sorbonne)

2005-9: UCD Humanities Institute Doctoral Fellowship

2005-8: Irish Research Council ‘Government of Ireland’ Postgraduate Scholarship


London Campus

Northumbria's London Campus offers students our academic quality and outstanding experience in the UK's capital city.

Research at Northumbria

Research at Northumbria

Research is the life blood of a University and at Northumbria University we pride ourselves on research that makes a difference; research that has application and affects people's lives.


Order your prospectus

If you would like to know more about our courses, or life in general as a student at Northumbria, then we can help you.

Latest News and Features

More news

Back to top