Literature, Science, and Exploration

"Literature, Science and Exploration," Cambridge 2004.
Literature, Science and Exploration,” Cambridge 2004, 2007.

In 1768, Captain James Cook made the most important scientific voyage of the eighteenth century. He was not alone: scores of explorers like Cook, travelling in the name of science, brought new worlds and new peoples within the horizon of European knowledge for the first time. Their discoveries changed the course of science. Old scientific disciplines, such as astronomy and botany, were transformed; new ones, like craniology and comparative anatomy, were brought into being. Scientific disciplines, in turn, pushed literature of the period towards new subjects, forms and styles. Works as diverse as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Wordsworth’s Excursion responded to the explorers’ and scientists’ latest discoveries. This wide-ranging and well-illustrated study shows how literary Romanticism arose partly in response to science’s appropriation of explorers’ encounters with foreign people and places and how it, in turn, changed the profile of science and exploration. This book, co-written with Tim Fulford and Peter J. Kitson and published by Cambridge University Press, looks at the intricate network of forces that shaped literature and science in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Read a review in Humanities and Social Sciences.

Ponies of Caldbeck Commons

This is a story about the Lake District, England.

Ponies of Caldbeck Commons was published this Fall in Newfound


Public Humanities Lecture

“I don’t know where it comes from, but I like to listen to people who have been sidelined for one reason or another, because when they start to talk they tell you things you won’t hear from anyone else.” Those are words were spoken by the author W.G. Sebald. What tools do we use to find and then understand these sidelined stories and hidden voices? My talk public humanities talk featured the words of slaves buried deep in British parliamentary papers, those of of poor, illiterate single mothers tucked into the Foundling Hospital archives in London, as well as the stories of some 50 people I interviewed as part of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness History Project, people who lived close to the land and knew how to listen to and translate the language of plants, animals, and the entire wilderness ecosystem. The talk emphasized the value of research that engages with not only literary and historical texts, but also communities and local environments.

Plenary Panel, Writers of the Palouse

On Friday, June 26th 2015, celebrated writers from the University of Idaho and others gathered at the Kentworthy Performing Arts Centre in downtown Moscow Idaho for a literary celebration and conversation about the inland Northwest: oil, soil, rivers, mountains, lentils, and more.