About Me

I’m a historian of science and the book, affiliated with the University of Iowa Center for the Book. My book, Sociable Knowledge: Natural History and the Nation in Early Modern Britain, is available now with University of Pennsylvania Press.

I also write essays that connect the history of science, technology, and the book with current events and trends. I’ve written for ReligionandPolitics.org, TheAtlantic.com, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Quartz, and JSTOR Daily.

Sociable Knowledge looks at how early modern British scientists, particularly in natural history and antiquarian studies, used correspondence, print, and conversation to share information, build community, and imagine (and contest) Britain as a nation with a shared social and natural geography. Over the years, this project has been supported with grants from the American Council of Learned Societies and the Manuscript Society.

As I finish up the book, I’m also getting started on a new scholarly project, an investigation of the posthumous fates of early modern scientists’ papers. Tracing these histories—whether the papers were destroyed, archived, published posthumously, or neglected — offers a way of gaging the transformation of science’s cultural position from the seventeenth through the twentieth century and mapping the changing relationship between science and history, as it has been perceived by scientists and others. As I get deeper into the project, I’m finding that it’s really about how a deceased person’s family and friends navigate mourning and survival through paper. So far, this project has been funded by a grant from the Huntington Library. As a 2014-2016 Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in Critical Bibliography at the Rare Book School, I’m developing the deeper bibliographical expertise crucial to this project.

At the UICB, I teach courses on the history of scientific books, especially illustrated ones; women, gender, and the book; and the material book in the early modern world. All my courses make extensive use of materials in University of Iowa Special Collections and the John Martin Rare Book Room at Hardin Library.

I received my Ph.D. in the History of Science from Harvard. My scholarly writing has been published in the history of science journal Isis, Book HistoryStudies in the History and Philosophy of the Biological and Biomedical Sciences, and in Ways of Making and Knowing: The Material Culture of Empirical Knowledge, ed. Pamela H. Smith, Amy R.W. Meyers, and Harold J. Cook (Bard Graduate Center, 2014).