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Professor Michael Brennan

0151 291 3501

I am Professor of Sociology and Subject Lead for Sociology in the School of Social Sciences at Liverpool Hope University. Previously (2013-14) I taught within the School of Government at Plymouth University, and prior to that (2008-12) at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, USA, where I was Associate Professor of Sociology, Director of the Center for Death Education & Bioethics, and Sociology section head in a combined Department of Archaeology and Sociology. Between 1996-2005 I taught Sociology in the UK at the Universities of Warwick, Leicester and Coventry.

I have a PhD in Sociology from the University of Warwick (2004); an MA in Social & Political Thought, also from the University of Warwick (1999); and a BA in Applied Sociology (First Class Hons.) from the University of Leicester (1996).

My research interests are located primarily in the sociology of death and dying, and my work has been published widely: in book form; in academic journals (including Mortality, Death StudiesSociology, Theory, Culture & Society; Omega: Journal of Death & Dying, and Illness, Crisis & Loss); as chapters in edited book collections; and in educational, professional and practice-driven outlets such as the 'A' Level journal Sociology Review, the online magazine of social research, Discover Society, the British Sociological Association's (BSA) Network, the Association for Death Education and Counseling's (ADEC) Forum and Nursing Standard - journal of the UK's Royal College of Nursing. Recent books include Theorising the Popular (2017), The A-Z of Death & Dying (2014) and Mourning & Disaster (2008).

I am currently engaged in several ongoing research projects, including: on public dying and 'pathography' (i.e. first-person narrative accounts of long-term sickness, terminal illness and/or bereavement); the methodological uses and intersection of biography in death, dying and bereavement; public commemoration and memory focusing on the 'weeping window' exhibition of poppies marking the anniversary of the First World War; and the relationship between culture and loss as manifested in industrial ruination and dereliction tourism. I regularly present my work at conferences and in the last few years have contributed talks at the Centre for Death and Society's (CDAS) annual conference in Bath; the British Sociological Association's Death, Dying and Bereavement study group symposium; at the Royal Geographical Society's (RGB) conference in London; and the Death Online Research Symposium (DORS). I was recently a keynote speaker at the Materiality of Mourning workshop sponsored by the Wellcome Trust and hosted at the University of Warwick. I also serve on the editorial board of the journals Memory Studies, Methodological Innovations, and Illness, Crisis & Loss and regularly as a reviewer for journals including Mortality, American Journal of Sociology, Death Studies, Omega: Journal of Death and Dying; The American Sociologist; and Theory, Culture & Society

I currently deliver teaching across all levels of the BA undergraduate programme and contribute to the MA programme in Sociology at Liverpool Hope. My teaching reflects my research interests and is concentrated in the areas of social theory, qualitative methods, the sociology of health and illness, sociology of religion and in specialist (and interdisciplinary) areas of academic interest such as death, dying and bereavement and the sociology of the Holocaust. I welcome interest from PhD students with sociological research interests in death and dying or any of the areas of special interest highlighted above. 

Selected Publications


Brennan, M. (ed.) (2017) Theorising the Popular. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Brennan, M. (ed.) (2014) The A-Z of Death and Dying: Social, Medical and Cultural Aspects. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.

Brennan, M. (2008) Mourning and Disaster: Finding Meaning in the Mourning for Hillsborough and Diana. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Book Chapters

Brennan, M. and Stypinska, D. (2020) 'Religion and the Public Sphere', in Spillman, L. (ed) Oxford Bibliographies in Sociology. New York: Oxford University Press.

Brennan, M. (2019) 'Tragedy and Injustice', in Thompson, N. and Cox, G. (eds.) Promoting Resilience: Responding to Adversity, Vulnerability and Loss. London and New York: Routledge.

Brennan, M. (2019) 'Social Death', in Harris, D. L. (ed.) Non-Death Loss and Grief: Context and Clinical Implications (pp. 36-49). London and New York: Routledge. 

Brennan, M. (2018) 'Why Materiality in Mourning Matters', in Newby, Z. and Toulson, R. (eds.) The Materiality of Mourning: Cross-disciplinary Perspectives (pp. 222-242). London and New York: Routledge.

Brennan, M. and Letherby, G. (2018) 'Auto/Biographical Approaches to Researching Death and Dying: Connections, Continuums, Contrasts', in Borgstrom, E., Ellis, J. and Woodthorpe, K. (eds.) Researching Death, Dying and Bereavement. London and New York: Routledge.

Brennan, M. (2017) 'Closure for the 96? Sudden Death, Traumatic Loss and the New Hillsborough Inquests', in Thompson, N., Cox, G. and Stevenson, R. (eds.) Handbook of Traumatic Loss: A Guide to Theory and Practice (pp. 233-250). London and New York: Routledge. 

Brennan, M. (2017) 'Christopher Hitchens, Public Dying and the Cultural Public Sphere', in Brennan, M. (ed.) Theorising the Popular (pp. 61-88). Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Brennan, M. (2017) 'Why the Popular Matters', in Brennan, M. (ed.) Theorising the Popular (pp. 1-8). Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. 

Brennan, M. (2017) 'Emile Durkheim', in Thompson, N. & Cox, G. (eds.) Handbook of the Sociology of Death, Grief and Bereavement (pp. 13-30). London and New York: Routledge.

Croxall, J. and Brennan, M. (2017) 'Max Weber', in Thompson, N. & Cox, G. (eds.) Handbook of the Sociology of Death, Grief and Bereavement (pp. 31-45). London and New York: Routledge.

Brennan, M. (2006) 'Echoes of Loss: Condolence Books and Collective Memory in the Mourning for Hillsborough', in Brown, A. (ed.) Historical Perspectives on Social Identities (pp. 154-170). Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Press.

Journal Articles

Brennan, M. (2021) 'Sociology in the Age of Pandemic', Sociology Review, 30(3): 24-27.

Brennan, M. (2018) 'Christopher Hitchens' Public Dying: Toward a Secular-Humanist Ars Moriendi?', Omega: Journal of Death and Dying, 77(2): 99-132.

Brennan, M. and Letherby, G. (2017) 'Auto/Biographical Approaches to Researching Death and Dying: Connections, Continuums, Contrasts', Mortality, 22(2): 155-169.

Brennan, M. (2015) 'Loss, Bereavement and Creativity: Meanings and Uses', Illness, Crisis and Loss, 23(4): 1-19.

Brennan, M. (2012) 'Men and Grief', Illness, Crisis and Loss, 20(1): 71-75.

Brennan, M. (2011) 'Explaining Religion', Sociology Review, 20(3): 30-33.

Brennan, M. (2010) 'International Conference on Death, Grief and Bereavement', Illness, Crisis and Loss, 18(1): 65-68.

Brennan, M. (2009) 'Public Mourning and the Legacy of Hillsborough - 20 Years on', Illness, Crisis and Loss, 17(3): 261-264.

Brennan, M. (2008) 'Mourning and Loss: Finding Meaning in the Mourning for Hillsborough', Mortality, 13(1): 1-23.

Brennan, M. (2008) 'Condolence Books: Language and Meaning in the Mourning for Hillsborough and Diana', Death Studies, 32(4): 326-351.

Brennan, M. (2005) 'Death and Dying', Sociology Review, 14(3): 26-28.

Brennan, M. (2004) 'Social Factors are Important in Patient Care: Sociology has its place in nurse education', Nursing Standard, 19(5): 25.

Brennan, M. (2001) 'Some Sociological Contemplations on Daniel J. Goldhagen's "Hitler's Willing Executioners", Theory, Culture and Society, 18(4): 83-109.

Brennan, M. (2001) 'Towards a Sociology of Public Mourning', Sociology, 35(1): 83-109.

Brennan, M. (1998) 'Choosing Ill Health? Gender, Class and Health Behaviour', Sociology Review, 7(3): 23-26.

Brennan, M. (1997) 'Smoking, Stress and Hardship in Women's Lives', Discussion Papers in Sociology, #S97/3. Leicester: University of Leicester Press.