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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 3000-level honours modules on the French Revolution and on Franco-British relations in the eighteenth century, and in my 4000-level and 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: Cultures of Botany in Britain and France, 1760-1815
My monograph exposes and analyses the links between botany, the plant trade, and cultures of connoisseurship, in France, Britain and their empires during the politically turbulent period of 1760-1815. It shows in particular how plant traders acted as key cultural, social and intellectual intermediaries, selling specimens and sharing information with communities of connoisseurs, botanists, gardeners and other consumers. Cultivating Commerce is as much a social and cultural history as a history of science, and it revises existing historical accounts by demonstrating the extent to which the science of botany was affected by the wider commercial, scholarly, and cultural transitions experienced in Britain and France in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
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 examines the relationship between the French Empire and the emergence of the natural sciences in the eighteenth century. Focusing on the French in India and the Indian Ocean between c. 1750 and 1793, I 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 assesses 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. Initial research for this project was funded by a Research Incentive Grant from the Carnegie Trust, [Carnegie Reference #70320]
Articles and Book chapters
I teach the honours modules:
MO3346: Politics, Culture and Society in the French Revolution, 1789-1815
MO3222: French Fancy and Cool Britannia? Franco-British cultural relations from the Seven Years’ War to the French Revolution
MO4968: Curiosity, Empire and Science in Eighteenth-century France
I also co-teach or lecture on the following courses:
Natalee Garrett, 'Political Caricatures of the Elite in France and Britain, 1740-1800'.
Ramsay MacKenzie-Dodds, ‘Nature and Culture Hand in Hand?’. Co-supervised with Dr Alistair Rider (Art History).
Elena Romero-Passerin, ‘For the Promotion of Science and the Prosperity of the People. Edinburgh, Florence and Pisa: Three public botanic gardens in the late Enlightenment’.
Matthew Ylitalo, ‘A Tale of Two Brokers and a Shipbuilder: Communities of Opportunism and the Dundee Arctic Whaling Trade, 1859-1922’. Co-supervised with Dr Bernhard Struck.
Paul Moorhouse, ‘A ‘Well-Wisher to Man-Kind’: Joseph Townsend (1739-1816) and the Problem of Poverty’. Co-supervised with Professor Richard Whatmore.
Dawn Hollis, ‘Re-Thinking Mountains : Ascents, Aesthetics and Environment in Early Modern Europe’. Co-supervised with Dr Bernhard Struck.