Metropolitan science: places, objects and cultures of practice and knowledge in London, 1600–1800

Rebekah Higgitt aims to produce a new narrative of the development of a scientific culture within early modern London, as revealed through the city's geographies of knowledge and material culture; exploring the role of technical and scientific artefacts and understanding the institutional spaces in which they were made, used, traded and displayed

When Thomas Sprat wrote his defence of and manifesto for the recently founded Royal Society in 1667, he wrote of its location as the most advantageous possible for an institution such as theirs:

Love and the Soul: Apuleius’ tale of Cupid and Psyche in European Culture since 1600

This study looks at the reception of the long two-book love story of Cupid (Amor or ‘Love’ in Latin) and Psyche (‘Soul’ in Greek), which forms the centrepiece of the Latin novel Metamorphoses or The Golden Ass by the second-century CE writer Apuleius, in European literature, art and opera from 1600 to the present day.

Mountains in ancient literature and culture and their post-classical reception

Recent work on mountains in modern European culture tends to emphasise the way in which everything changed in the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries. The standard story is that mountains had before then been viewed as places of fear and ugliness; now they came to be linked with beauty and sublimity, and became places of leisure through the development of mountain climbing as a sport.

The Civil Rights Movement: a literary history

Sharon Monteith’s literary-historical study will be the first to analyse the relationship between literary culture and political and social change in the US civil rights movement. It will uncover the significance of literary activism from the post-Civil War Reconstruction era to the present and, by mapping and analysing civil rights literary culture, it will extend civil rights historiography. 

The Cretaceous-Paleogene mass extinction – severity, recovery, and biogeography

Is evolution driven primarily by the slow action of everyday processes, or do the rare, extreme events – disasters, catastrophes, and sudden environmental shifts – play the defining role in evolution? Darwin saw evolution playing out gradually, with the slow and steady action of competition, predation, and environmental changes driving evolution. Much as the rain slowly wears away a stone, he saw such changes gradually altering species, generation by generation, across millions of years.

Watching plants drink

Water is essential to life, human health, food production and economic activity. The growth in global population and manufacturing, combined with the impact of climate change, are placing unsustainable demands on water resources. The agricultural sector is the major user of freshwater resources, accounting for >70% of withdrawals globally, and >90% in less-developed countries. By 2050, agriculture must produce 60% more food globally and 100% more in developing countries. The current rate of agricultural water demand is clearly unsustainable.

Book lovers: affect and the history of reading in the late age of print

This research project began one afternoon at my Grandparents’ house. It was raining and I was lazily browsing through the many books on their many bookshelves. And then I found something extraordinary. I found an inscription from my father to my mother, from James to Sally. What was extraordinary was that this inscription was written long before James was my father or Sally was my mother. Not only had Dad inscribed the book, he had highlighted passages and left little messages in the margins. Almost as soon as I started reading them, I slapped the book shut.

Punk, politics and gender in the UK

This research project looks at how cultural production in the UK can be linked to political developments, particularly within feminist punk scenes. At present there is tension within feminist movements, as a new generation’s ideas and practices are pitted against traditional liberal approaches, with wider implications for debates around representation and freedom of speech. These debates sometimes become vitriolic and factionalised as activists conduct their arguments online.

The earliest tetrapods: environment, faunal associations, and terrestrialisation

My project extends research from a four year NERC-funded consortium grant studying the fossil fauna, environment and climate of the earliest Carboniferous Tournaisian stage, between 359 and 342 million years ago (mya). Colloquially known as “Romer’s Gap” because of a long-standing hiatus in the fossil record of tetrapods (vertebrates with limbs and digits leading to and including modern forms such as ourselves). The interval spans the time during which tetrapods must have begun to exploit land living in a serious way.

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