Cowan, Mairi

Associate Professor, Teaching StreamHistorical Studies - History

Contact Information

NE 4282
Mailing Address: 
3359 Mississauga Rd.
Postal Code: 
L5L 1C6
Office Hours: 
Mairi Cowan

Mairi Cowan holds a B.A. in History and Religious Studies from the University of Toronto, a B.Ed. from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, and an M.A. and a Ph.D. from the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto.  Her teaching and research interests focus on the social and religious history of the late medieval and early modern world, especially Scotland and New France.  She is also interested in history education and in outreach by academic historians.

Professor Cowan is currently writing a book about the demonology of New France and the spiritual anxieties of early Canada.  This research is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.



Cowan, Mairi.  Death, Life, and Religious Change in Scottish Towns c. 1350-1560.  Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2012. 

Journal Articles

Cowan, Mairi. "Education, Francisation, and Shifting Colonial Priorities at the Ursuline Convent in Seventeenth-Century Québec". The Canadian Historical Review Vol. 99, 1 (2018): 1-29.

Cowan, Mairi.  “‘The Saints of the Scottish Country will Fight Today’: Robert the Bruce’s alliance with the saints at Bannockburn”.  International Review of Scottish Studies 40 (2015): 1-33.

Cowan, Mairi. “In the Borderlands of Periodization with ‘The blythnes that hes bein’: The medieval / early modern boundary in Scottish history”.  Journal of the Canadian Historical Association 23,2 (2012): 142-175. 

Cowan, Mairi and Christopher Landon. “The Missing Links in History Education”.  The Canadian Journal for Social Research 4,1 (2011): 20-30. 

Cowan, Mairi. “Teaching the English Reformation to History Students through the Music of Thomas Tallis”.  Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Teaching 15,2 (Fall 2008): 79-93.

Mozel, Phil and Mairi Cowan. “Did Philips Lansbergen Own the University of Toronto's De revolutionibus by Nicolaus Copernicus?”.  The Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (December, 2007): 236-240. 

Chapters in Books

Cowan, Mairi. "A Contested Conception: Jocelin of Furness and St. Kentigern in Twelfth-Century Glasgow" in From Learning to Love: Schools, Law, and Pastoral Care in the Middle Ages. Edited by Tristan Sharp with Isabelle Cochelin, Greti Dinkova-Bruun, Abigail Firey, and Giulio Silano. Toronto: Pontifical Institute for Mediaeval Studies Press, 2017. 

Cowan, Mairi and Laura Walkling. “A ‘gret cradil of stait’: growing up with the court of James IV” in Children and Youth in Premodern Scotland.  Edited by Elizabeth Ewan and Janay Nugent.  St Andrews: Boydell and Brewer for St Andrews Studies in Scottish History, 2015, 15-31.

Cowan, Mairi.  “The Spiritual Ties of Kinship in Pre-Reformation Scotland” in Finding the Family in Medieval and Early Modern Scotland.  Edited by Elizabeth Ewan and Janay Nugent.  Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008, 176-195.

Magazine Articles and Other Popular Publications 

Overgaard, Nicholas and Mairi Cowan. “A “Very Particular Assistance’ from Jean de Brébeuf: Opium and relics as a cure for phrénésie in seventeenth-century New France”, for Findings / Trouvailles, The Champlain Society, June 2017.

Cowan, Mairi. “Season of Good Cheer”. Canada’s History (December 2016 / January 2017): 48-55.

Cowan, Mairi. “King Cakes at the Ursuline Convent in Quebec”, “A Musical Midnight Mass in New France”, and “Courtship in Muddy Yuletide York” for the Twelve Days of Trouvailles series, Findings / Trouvailles, The Champlain Society, 2016.

Cowan, Mairi.  “African Currents in the Renaissance Scottish Court”.  History Scotland (November / December, 2014): 38-43.

Cowan, Mairi. “Yule in the Court of James IV”.  History Scotland (January / February, 2005): 17-23.


Cowan, Mairi, with Tyler Evans-Tokaryk, Elaine Goettler, Jeffrey Graham, Christopher Landon, Simone Laughton, Sharon Marjadsingh, Caspian Sawczak, and Alison Weir.  “Engaging Students to Think Critically in a Large History Class”. Toronto: Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario, 2014.

Entries in Encyclopedias and Dictionaries

Cowan, Mairi.  “Thomas Tallis” in The Encyclopedia of Tudor England. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2012.

Cowan, Mairi.  “Janet Rynd” in The Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women.  Edited by E. Ewan, S. Innes, R. Pipes and S. Reynolds.  Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2006.

Teaching and Learning Resources

“The Travels of the Lute: A Digital Humanities Resource for Teaching and Learning World History”, a website featuring teaching and learning resources for instructors at the elementary, secondary, and postsecondary levels.

* Included on the website is a series of videos in which players of the oud, lute, and sarod perform traditional music and discuss the histories of their instruments (total of 90 minutes); an interactive GIS mapping tool; educational resources for a range of courses and levels; and a list of additional resources.

“Exploring the Explorers: Jacques Cartier” and “Exploring the Explorers: Samuel de Champlain” / « À la découverte des explorateurs: Jacques Cartier » et « À la découverte des explorateurs: Samuel de Champlain », teaching and learning packages for use with the Dictionary of Canadian Biography / Dictionnaire biographique du Canada.

* Free educational resources for teachers and students in elementary and secondary courses in History, English, French, Geography, Music, and other subjects.

Book Reviews

Book reviews for The Scottish Historical Review, The History Teacher, the International Review of Scottish Studies, and Northern Scotland.

Mairi Cowan's Curriculum Vitae


Medieval and Early Modern Scotland; Early New France; History Education
B.A. in History and Religious Studies, University of Toronto
B.Ed., Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
M.A. and a Ph.D.,Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto