I am a cultural historian with special interest in 18th century environmental, medical and natural history as well as the history of universities and scholarship. I obtained a PhD from the University of Goettingen with a thesis on the cultural history of epizootics in Mid-18th century Northern Europe. The thesis used multi-disciplinary approaches to the past experiences of humans and other species. My research critically engages with Animal Studies and the development of the scientific as well as quotidian engagement of humans with the natural world in the past but also the present. My current research project is a material history of 18th century entomology. It analyzes the pan-European fascination with insects and their taxonomy and behaviour as well as the role of global specimens in these processes in order to illuminate the development of scientific disciplines, global exchange and the practices of (academic) knowledge formation. The project will pay special attention to materiality, the role of images vs text and the means of knowledge exchange and discussion. The insect collections of the Hunterian in Glasgow, the Natural History Museum in London, the Natural History Museum in Copenhagen, the Museum of Evolution in Uppsala and the Muséum d’histoire naturelle in Paris as well of the Zoology Museum at the University of Kiel will be used for an analysis of their collections in this context. Collaboration with today’s curators is an important part of the project as historic zoological collections are invaluable sources for current taxonomic and biodiversity research in the life sciences. In addition I am also publishing on the history of universities as corporate institutions and academics as subjects in (by lack of a better term) “enlightened absolutism”. This research also is informed by current developments in higher education globally and discussion on the future of the humanities. Since August 2017 I am editor of the Brill series “Emergence of Natural History” (ENH). Additionally, I am an advisor to the initiative to strengthen research, outreach and conservation of the University of Goettingen’s academic collections. Academic heritage, the history and future of collections and the material aspects of knowledge formation are my keay concerns also as an affiliate researcher at The Hunterian, University of Glasgow.
Medieval literature, Chaucer, theology and literature, early Irish poetry, medieval history, manuscript studies, modern medievalisms, history of literary criticism, historical linguistics
Victorian literature (Eliot, Hardy, Gissing), Victorian socio-cultural history, historical musicology, the history of the English novel, interdisciplinary studies in literature