My main research interests are in the social and cultural history of eighteenth-century European cities, particularly Paris. I have also worked on Milan and Stockholm, and am currently studying the uses of fire in European cities across a longer period, roughly 1550 to 1850.
I have written on the Enlightenment, notably on friendship, philanthropy, and cosmopolitanism, and recently completed a book on Protestants and the coming of religious freedom in eighteenth-century Paris. My current projects include a history of religious confraternities in Paris before the French Revolution.
I did my first degree at the University of Melbourne and my doctorate at Oxford University. Since 1984 I have taught history at Monash University, where I have also served as Associate Dean (Teaching) in the Arts Faculty and as Head of the School of Historical Studies. I have held a number of visiting fellowships: at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Lyon, at the University of Toulouse-Le Mirail, and several times at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris.
In 2003 my book The Making of Revolutionary Paris won the NSW Premier’s Prize for History (General Section) and in 2004 I was elected to the Australian Academy of the Humanities.
I am a lifelong supporter of Oxfam (formerly Community Aid Abroad) and I like cats.
I have served on the Executive of the Australian Historical Association, the Editorial Boards of H-France, French Historical Studies, and the Australian Journal of French Studies. I have twice co-organized the George Rudé Seminar in French History and Civilization, a major international conference, and I am Secretary of the George Rudé Society, the body that runs the Rudé Seminar.