In general, my research has focused on the links between violence and the formation of communal identities in modern Ulster. My first book, Rituals and Riots: Sectarian Violence and Political Culture in Ulster, 1784-1886, examined the relationships between Catholic/Protestant rioting and the emergence of a divided political culture in the north of Ireland. In recent years I have co-edited two volumes of essays on aspects of the modern Irish experience (with Danine Farquharson and Michael de Nie) and am currently writing a series of articles on evangelical Protestantism and popular politics in early Victorian Belfast. I have just completed a book project on evangelical Protestantism and politics in early Victorian Belfast and have begun work on my next book, a microhistory of Trillick Railway Outrage in mid nineteenth-century Ireland. I am a past President of the American Conference for Irish Studies.
- Farrell, Sean and Michael de Nie, ed., Power and Popular Culture in Modern Ireland: Essays in Honour of James S. Donnelly, Jr. (Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 2010).
- Farrell, Sean and Danine Farquharson, ed., Shadows of the Gunmen: Violence and Culture in Modern Ireland (Cork: Cork University Press, 2007).
- Rituals and Riots: Sectarian Violence and Political Culture in Ulster, 1784-1886 (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2000). Awarded Donald F. Murphy Prize for Distinguished First Book by the American Conference for Irish Studies.
- “Going to Extremes: Anti-Catholicism and Ant-Slavery in Early Victorian Belfast,” European Romantic Review 28: 4 (Summer 2017), 461-72.
- “Contested Histories: Richard Mant and Religious Politics in Early Victorian Belfast,” in Alan Ford, et al. eds., The Church of Ireland and its Past: History, Interpretation, and Identity (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2017), 95-107.
- “Irish Rebel, Imperial Reformer: Charles Gavan Duffy and Australian Federation, 1857-1871,” in Michael de Nie, Timothy G. McMahon and Paul Townend, Ireland in an Imperial World (London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2017), 69-89.
- "The Reverend Thomas Drew and Protestant Children in Early Victorian Belfast," New Hibernia Review, 19: 2 (Summer 2015), 43-58.
- "Building Connections: The Mant Controversy and the Church of Ireland in Early Victorian Belfast," Irish Historical Studies, 154 (November 2014), 52-71.
- "Providence, Progress and Silence: Writing the Irish Famine on Sandy Row," Canadian Journal of Irish Studies (Winter 2013), 101-113.
- "Ulster Sectarianism and the Lessons of South Asian Historiography," History Compass, 8/9 (2010), 1023-35.
- "The Burning of Freeduff Presbyterian Church, 1743," New Hibernia Review/Irish Eireannach Nua, Volume 9, Number 3 (Autumn 2005), 72-85.
- (Editor) Eire-Ireland, Volume 39: 1 and 2 (Earrach/Samradh; Spring/Summer 2004), special issue on unionist identities.
- "Recapturing the Flag: The Campaign to Repeal the Party Processions Act, 1860-72," Eire-Ireland XXXII (Summer/Fall 1997), 52-78.
As a historian of the British Isles, I teach survey courses on Late Medieval and Early Modern England, Scotland and Wales, Modern Britain and Modern Ireland. In my upper division and graduate courses, I'm particularly interested in exploring questions of empire and nation, so most of my courses revolve around those broad themes.
- HIST 171 The World Since 1500
- HIST 356 Modern Ireland
- HIST 357 History of the British Isles, 1066-1688
- HIST 358 History of the British Isles, 1688 to the Present
- HIST 391 Historical Methods
- HIST 452 Nation and Empire in Modern Britain
- HIST 454 Industry, State and Society in Modern Britain
- HIST 491 Senior Thesis
- HIST 498 Ireland and India
- HIST 540 Nation and Empire in Modern Britain
Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, 1996
Modern Europe (Britain and Ireland)