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I joined St Andrews in 2012, having previously held a Dibner Fellowship in the History of Science at the Huntington Library, California, a Max Weber Fellowship at the European University Institute and an Early Career Fellowship at the Institute of Advanced Study, University of Warwick. I was awarded my PhD at Warwick in 2010. I teach and research eighteenth-century cultural and social history, focusing the global connections and transnational links made between France, Britain and the wider world. My particular research interest is on the relationship between science, society and culture in the eighteenth century, and on how information, knowledge and cultural influences moved (or failed to move) between nations and across social groups. This is reflected in my honours modules on the French Revolution and on Franco-British relations in the eighteenth century, and in my MLitt teaching on global and transnational history, social history and the history of science. In summary, my research interests encompass the histories of consumption, collecting and gender in the eighteenth century as well as the history of science and global history. I would be happy to hear from students considering pursuing any of these themes for undergraduate or postgraduate study.
Cultivating Commerce: Connoisseurship and Cultures of Botany in Britain and France, 1760-1815
I am currently completing my monograph, Cultivating Commerce: Connoisseurship and Cultures of Botany in Britain and France, 1760-1815 (under contract with Cambridge University Press). The book is a social history of botany in France and Britain in the second half of the eighteenth century. It exposes the close connections between botany and an expanding plant trade, and with shifting cultures of connoisseurship, during the period. It asks how individuals who profited financially from selling the commodities associated with science understood and related to the notion of a community of scientific practitioners. Working at the interface between cultural and economic history, and the social history of science, I expose the diversity of socio-intellectual configurations that existed in the late eighteenth century.
Cultures of Natural Knowledge
In writing my book I have become increasingly interested in the relationship between social participation in science and the literary or visual forms through which scholarly information is communicated. Answering such questions requires an interdisciplinary approach, and I have collaborated with Dr Emily Senior (Department of English, Birkbeck), on a research project about these connections. We co-edited a journal special issue on 'The Cultural Production of Natural Knowledge' (Journal for Eighteenth Century Studies, 36.4, December 2013), and convened a conference on ‘Aesthetic Enlightenments’ at the Huntington Library, California (10-11 January 2014).
Making Knowledge, Forging Empire? The French in India, c. 1750-1793
My next major research project will examine the relationship between the French Empire and the emergence of the natural sciences in the eighteenth century. Focusing on the French in India between c. 1750 and 1793, I will examine the scholarly activity and knowledge networks of officials such as consuls and employees of the Compagnie des Indes,who worked within, but did not form, colonial structures. The project will assess the significance of communication and information management, and the impact of cultural and social norms on the reception of new knowledge. By reconstructing and analysing the networks formed by lesser officials working within the French empire, this study will revise existing presumptions about the relationship between the collection of knowledge and the construction of empires.
Articles and book chapters
Social History Society – Executive Committee member (2012-15) and co-convenor of the ‘Economies, Culture and Consumption’ strand.
I teach the honours modules:
MO3346: Politics, Culture and Society in the French Revolution, 1789-1815
MO3222: French Fancy and Cool Britannia? Franco-British relations from the Seven Years’ War to the French Revolution
I also co-teach on the following courses:
Dawn Hollis, ‘High Places of the Heart and Mind: Natural Knowledge of and Reactions to Mountains Before 1750’. Co-supervised with Dr Bernhard Struck.
Paul Moorhouse, ‘Joseph Townsend and an End to Poverty’. Co-supervised with Professor Richard Whatmore.
Matthew Ylitalo, ‘Hunting Whales and Making Knowledge: Dundee’s Globalisation through Trans-Maritime Whaling, 1750-1914’. Co-supervised with Dr Bernhard Struck.