discussants

D. Graham Burnett – History of Science, University of Princeton

D. Graham Burnett is a historian of science, and recently held the Christian Gauss Fund University Preceptorship. The recipient of a 2009 Mellon New Directions Fellowship, he is currently working on connections between the sciences and the visual arts. His first book, Masters of All They Surveyed: Exploration, Geography, and a British El Dorado (2000), examines the relationship between cartography and colonialism in the nineteenth century. He is also the author of Descartes and the Hyperbolic Quest (2005), a monograph on Cartesian thought and seventeenth-century lens making, and A Trial By Jury (2001), a narrative account of his experience as the jury foreman on a Manhattan murder trial. His book Trying Leviathan: The Nineteenth-Century New York Court Case That Put the Whale on Trial and Challenged the Order of Nature (2007) won the 2007 Hermalyn Prize in Urban History and the New York City Book Award in 2008. The Sounding of the Whale: Science and Cetaceans in the Twentieth Century is his most recent book; listen to a recording of Burnett speaking about it here. Burnett has written essays and reviews for a variety of publications, including the New Yorker, Harpers, the Economist, the American Scholar (where he served two terms on the editorial board), Daedalus (where he was a contributing editor), the New York Times, the Times Literary Supplement, and the New Republic.  In 2008 he became an editor at the Brooklyn-based art magazine Cabinet, and he also serves on the editorial board of Lapham’s Quarterly.

Catherine Richardson – English Literature, University of Kent

Catherine Richardson is interested in the relationship between texts and the material circumstances of their production and consumption – for instance the way individuals described objects as they wrote them into probate inventories, or how theatre audiences ‘saw’ spaces in relation to the dialogue of a play, the physical nature of the theatre and their own memories and imaginations. Her research, then, focuses on the movement between living and writing, between experience and narrative.
A good deal of her work is on the material culture of early modern England. She is working on a long-term project on the clothing of those below the level of the elite in early modern England, focusing on the function of dress in an urban context. This offers an opportunity to examine the relationship between prescriptive discourses about clothing – sumptuary legislation, moral literature etc, and the evidence of social practice available from testamentary and judicial documents. In common with the majority of her work, this project is based on extensive examination of local archival materials, and an attempt to relate these to national discourses and the material remains of the period.
In the shorter term, she is working on a series of projects about domestic life, all of which are about trying to understand the experience of living in a house for the middling sort. Catherine runs an AHRC research network on Ways of Seeing the English Domestic Interior, 1500-1700: the case of decorative textiles with Tara Hamling at Birmingham, which investigates peoples’ experience of household life in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and considers how we might use this information to enhance our experience of visiting historic properties in the twenty-first century. The network uses the latest developments in computer science and cognitive science in order to understand how the domestic interior was experienced in early modern England, and it brings together researchers in the humanities and sciences, conservators, museums curators and heritage professionals, including individuals from English Heritage, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Historic Royal Palaces and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. In order to make the task more manageable, they focus on a specific case study – ‘how did early modern men and women respond to decorative textiles in their houses?’ Find out more about the network here. Tara and Catherine are also writing a book on middling domestic interiors – how people experienced their living spaces and furnishings – from bed chambers and warming pans to apostle spoons and chamber pots, titled A Day at Home in Early Modern England. There’s more information about this and other projects on the Material Histories blog.

Chris Laoutaris – English Literature, the Shakespeare Institute

Chris Laoutaris joined the Shakespeare Institute in 2013, having been awarded a Birmingham Fellowship in order to conduct research for Team Shakespeare: The First Folio and the Men who Created the Shakespeare Legacy. Between 2010 and 2012 he was Renaissance Literature Course Convenor at University College London, where he had been lecturing in Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature since 2007. While at UCL Chris was awarded a British Academy Post-Doctoral Fellowship for Shakespeare and the Countess: The Battle that Gave Birth to the Globe (forthcoming from Penguin in 2014), a project which was shortlisted for the Tony Lothian Prize for Biography. Chris is also the author of Shakespearean Maternities: Crises of Conception in Early Modern England and have published elsewhere on early modern rituals of mourning, burial and commemoration in Shakespeare; the connections between Renaissance political and pedagogical culture; female translators and historical writers; Renaissance portraiture; the coterie of the Earl of Essex; and indomitable Renaissance women.

Simon Werrett – History of Science, UCL

Simon Werrett is an historian of science with an interest in the long-term historical relationships of the arts and sciences, in particular the ways domestic, artisanal, and industrial skills, techniques, and performances have shaped the development of the sciences. He is the author of Fireworks: Pyrotechnic Arts and Sciences in European History, published by the University of Chicago Press in 2010, and more than twenty articles on the history of science and the arts. Before joining the Department of Science and Technology Studies at UCL Werrett was an Associate Professor of the history of science and technology at the University of Washington in Seattle. He also held visiting fellowships to the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, the Centre for Research in Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences in Cambridge University, the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, and the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society in Munich. Werrett’s current research relates directly to questions of material culture and history, exploring the stewardship of objects and materials in the physical sciences in the seventeenth to nineteenth century. This involves recovering a range of material techniques for adapting, re-using, repairing and recycling materials in laboratory settings, and assessing the significance of such practices for the development of modern science. Werrett has used interdisciplinary approaches to study this topic, particularly approaches from art history, anthropology, economic and social history, and the sociology of science.

Glenn Adamson – History of Design, V&A

Glenn Adamson leads the Research Department’s activities, working closely with colleagues within the museum and in collaboration with scholars and institutions worldwide.  He holds a PhD in art history from Yale University, and was previously curator at the Chipstone Foundation in Milwaukee. Dr. Adamson co-curated (with Jane Pavitt) the exhibition Postmodernism: Style and Subversion, 1970 to 1990, which opened at the V&A in 2011. He has also written widely on craft history and theory, in such books as Thinking Through Craft (2007), The Craft Reader (2010), and The Invention of Craft (2012); and has edited numerous publications including the triannual Journal of Modern Craft, the volume Global Design History (co-edited with Giorgio Riello and Sarah Teasley, 2011), and Surface Tensions (co-edited with Victoria Kelley, 2012).

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