Broadly speaking, Stephen studies the history of modern Scotland's place in the world. His current research focuses on the historical cultural and political connections between Scotland and the US, specifically through a study of the cultural memory of the Scots-born 'Father of the US Navy' John Paul Jones and another project on the transatlantic histories and historiographies of Glasgow and New York. He is also developing an interest in 'creative history.'
Stephen has conducted research across Britain and the US and has published on Anglo-American relations and politics. His 2018 book with Edinburgh University Press - The Pilgrims Society and Public Diplomacy, 1895-1945 - focuses on propaganda, cultural diplomacy, and networking between British and American elites in the first half of the twentieth century. Stephen has also published with the Journal of Transatlantic Studies, the Journal of Scottish Historical Studies, and History Scotland. He was the 2013 winner of the Transatlantic Studies Association's Donald Cameron Watt Prize.
Stephen is currently working on the following projects:
Co-editing with Kieran Taylor (Queen Margaret University), and writing for, the book project 'Portable City: Glasgow’s Transatlantic Connections.' This book is under contract with Peter Lang and will be published as part of the City as Place: Emotions, Experiences and Meanings series, edited by the University of Glasgow's Rebecca Madgin and Simon Fraser University's Nicolas Kenny.
Collaborating with Gyorgy Toth on the project 'The Memory of John Paul Jones in Anglo-American Relations, c.1900s-c.1990s.' This project is in part supported by a grant from the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
Collaborating with Sarah Bromage (Head of University Art Collection), Rosie Al-Mulla (Assistant Archivist), and student volunteers on the University's COVID Pandemic Oral History Project. Work from this project will be published later in 2023 on the UCL Press BOOC Paper Trails: The Social Lives of Archives and Collections. This publication is an experiment in creative oral history and will be presented in written form and in film, and is currently being co-produced with film-maker Mike Rea, award-winning animator Gregor Forbes, and Royal Conservatoire of Scotland musician Connor Bristow. This project has been supported by grants from the Vice-Chancellor's Fund and Faculty Impact Support funding.
Stephen is happy to supervise PhDs and Masters dissertations on topics falling broadly within the areas outlined above, especially modern Scottish and British history from a transnational perspective, the history of Anglo-American relations, political and international elite networks, cultural diplomacy, and urban history (broadly defined) in Britain and North America.
Stephen is also one of the founding members of the Faculty's Modern Research Group and sits on the advisory board for the Scottish Political Archive. He is currently working with Liam Bell and Nikolaos Papadogiannis to set up a new Creative Histories Research Group.