Mairi Cowan

Mairi Cowan

Associate Professor, Teaching Stream Historical Studies - History
Office Location:
MN 4282
Office Hours:
Please refer to syllabus and/or contact via email.
3359 Mississauga Road, Maanjiwe nendamowinan, 4th floor
Mississauga , Ontario
L5L 1C6
Mairi Cowan is a historian of the late medieval and early modern world, with specializations in the social and religious histories of Scotland and New France. Her recent books and articles examine the connections between social discipline and the Catholic Reformation in Scotland; tensions of international theology, national politics, and local tradition in twelfth-century Glasgow; experiences of childhood in the Renaissance court of James IV, King of Scots; colonial efforts to “Frenchify” Indigenous people in seventeenth-century Québec; and Jesuit missionaries’ beliefs about demons in Indigenous societies of North America. She is currently writing a book about what a case of demonic possession in seventeenth-century Québec can tell us about daily life in early Canada. This research is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
Professor Cowan is also interested in studying how best to teach and learn history. She has published research on the development of critical thinking skills in large history courses and on the gaps that separate high school preparation from university expectations. She has recently begun a project that investigates the effectiveness of different kinds of feedback on students’ work.
At the Department of Historical Studies, Professor Cowan teaches courses on world history and European history. Whether in a large first-year lecture, an advanced seminar, or an independent reading project, she focusses on guiding students through authentic historical problems while helping them to develop the skills they need to discover, understand, and engage with the human past in a historically responsible way.  
Mairi Cowan's Curriculum Vitae


Current Courses: 


  • HIS102H5: A History of Discoveries and Inventions in the Ancient, Medieval, and Early Modern World
  • HIS420H5: Topics in Medieval History: Microhistories of Medieval and Early Modern Europe


  • HIS230H5: Introduction to European History 1300-1815
  • HIS236H5: Introduction to British History
  • HIS409H5: The Life Cycle in Medieval and Early Modern Europe



Storey, William Kelleher and Mairi Cowan. Writing History: A Guide for Canadian Students5th Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019.

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


Hahn, Whitney and Mairi Cowan. Food, Foodways, and Francisation in Seventeenth-Century Québec. Dublin Gastronomy Symposium, 2018.

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. “Jesuit Missionaries and the Accommodationist Demons of New France.” In Knowing Demons, Knowing Spirits in the Early Modern Period, edited by Michelle D. Brock, Richard Raiswell, and David R. Winter, 211-238. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.

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.


Cowan, Mairi (as lead author) 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. 76 pp. 

Teaching and Learning Resources

With Whitney Hahn, “Teach My Research: Food, Colonization, and Religion in New France.” Borealia: A Group Blog on Early Canadian History, July 2020.

“A More Optimistic Way to Teach Academic Integrity: Standing with Honor on the Shoulders of Giants.” The Teaching Professor, June 1, 2020.

“Building the Habitation: An Educational Resource for Teaching and Learning about Samuel de Champlain at Québec, 1608.” Toronto: The Champlain Society, 2020.

“Perspectives on the Habitation: An Educational Resource for Teaching and Learning about the Place of Québec in the Early Modern World.” Toronto: The Champlain Society, 2020.

“Teaching about Academic Integrity by Making Citations Meaningful.” The Canadian Historical Association Teaching / Learning Blog, 2019.

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.

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

Magazine Articles

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

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.

Other Popular and Non-Refereed Publications

Cowan, Mairi. "President Trump's Medievalish Walls." In Active History, 15 January 2019.

Cowan Mairi and Whitney Hahn. “Food Studies and Feasting at the Dublin Gastronomy Symposium.” In Culinary Historians of Canada Digestible Bits and Bites, July 2018.

Kaler, Michael, Mairi Cowan, and Tyler Evans-Tokaryk. “Making Time for Writing Pedagogy: Introducing the UTM Faculty Writing Fellowship.” In the Teaching & Learning Collaboration @UTM Newsletter, January 2018.

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.” In Findings / Trouvailles, The Champlain Society, June 2017. 

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

Cowan, Mairi. “The Emerging Histories of the Early Modern French Atlantic Conference from an Early Modern Canadianist Perspective.” In Borealia: A Group Blog on Early Canadian History, 2015.

Cowan, Mairi. “Learning How to Prepare.” In Success in First-Year University: A Survival Guide For International and ESL Students. Edited by Laura Taylor, Stacey Platt and Joanna Mackie. Mississauga: University of Toronto Mississauga Robert Gillespie Academic Skills Centre, in partnership with the International Education Centre, 2015, 99-101.

Cowan, Mairi. “Measuring the Effectiveness of Innovation in Teaching.” In Dalibhunga: The Historical Studies Bulletin 2014-2015.

Cowan, Mairi. “John Norton,” a panel explanation for the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry Project, 2014.

Cowan, Mairi. “Mary Irwin,” a panel explanation for the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry Project, 2014.

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.

Cowan, Mairi. “Plurals,” an advice file for the University of Toronto Writing website.

Cowan, Mairi. “Possessives,” an advice file for the University of Toronto Writing website.


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