66 Chancellors Cir, Winnipeg, MB R3T 2N2, Canada
McKillop got a Bachelor of Arts (1968) and a Master of Arts (1970) from the University of Manitoba.
99 University Ave, Kingston, ON K7L 3N6, Canada
In 1977 McKillop received a Doctor of Philosophy from Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario.
McKillop earned a Bachelor of Arts (1968) and a Master of Arts (1970) from the University of Manitoba. In 1977 he received a Doctor of Philosophy from Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario.
Alexander Brian McKillop has authored and edited a number of well-received studies of Canada's intellectual and spiritual development, particularly in the Victorian era. More recently, he became intrigued by the strange case of Florence Deeks, a Canadian woman who claimed that H. G. Wells plagiarized her unpublished manuscript in his famous Outline of History, a claim that has long been dismissed by historians. McKillop found much compelling evidence for Deeks's position, and his The Spinster and the Prophet: Florence Deeks, H. G. Wells, and the Mystery of the Purloined Past is forcing a reexamination of this literary mystery.
One of McKillop's primary themes throughout his career has been the development of moral consensus among educated Canadians. In A Disciplined Intelligence: Critical Inquiry and Canadian Thought in the Victorian Era, he set forth his belief that a Protestant orthodoxy coalesced around certain ideals held by the English Canadian elite. These ideas were derived from the Common Sense ideals of the Scottish enlightenment, the natural theology of William Paley (known for his contention that nature's complexity proved the existence of a divine "designer"), and the experimental science of Francis Bacon. For these intellectual leaders, often academics, the moral faculty was at least as important as the intellectual, and the ultimate purpose of science was to reveal the wonder of God. McKillop also explored ways in which Darwinian evolution and the ideas of the Social Gospel challenged or reinforced this intellectual consensus.
In Contours of Canadian Thought, a collection of previously published essays, McKillop highlighted more recent trends in Canadian intellectual history, particularly in the face of challenges from social or cultural historians. McKillop argued for putting ideas within their social context while maintaining the inherent value of these ideas themselves.
McKillop next focused on intellectual developments in a particular Canadian province, in Matters of Mind: The University in Ontario, 1791-1951. Like other provinces, Ontario found itself neglected by the central government, particularly when it came to higher education. In telling the story of Ontario's development of full-fledged universities, he touched on many themes that pervade Canadian intellectual and social history, including secularization, federalism, the status of Canada within the British Empire, and the impact of British scientific developments, particularly Darwin's revolutionary ideas. At the same time, he examined the nitty-gritty details that confronted university officials, such as relations with town governments, changes in the curriculum, and the search for funding.
In his many types of research into Canadian intellectual history, McKillop came across the strange story of Florence Deeks, a Toronto spinster whose unsuccessful plagiarism suit against H. G. Wells had earned little more than a footnote in the historical record. At first, the case seemed laughable: an unknown amateur claiming that literary giant H. G. Wells had plagiarized her unpublished manuscript to produce his seminal Outline of History. Gradually, McKillop became more intrigued by the claims of the feisty woman who refused to give up, appealing her case to a higher court, then to the English Privy Council, and ultimately to King George V himself, all without success. McKillop decided to reexamine the record.
McKillop is a Chancellor's Professor at Carleton University and the former Chair of the Department of History from 2005 to 2009.
Alexander's research interests are focused on intellectual and cultural history, including religion, higher education, elite and popular culture, cultural production and expression, and historiography, as well as the biography of Pierre Berton.
Alexander married Pauline Eliza Taylor. The couple has a son, Hamish Alexander.