I’m a historian of science and medicine, recently retired as Horning Professor in the Humanities at Oregon State University, where I’ve been since 2008. Before that I was a professor of History and Environmental Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. I was educated at Connecticut College and Oxford University and received a Ph.D. in History and Philosophy of Science from Indiana University.
Mostly, I’m a writer. People and their stories, past and present, are what move me. I’m happiest sitting in a café or somewhere outdoors filling the pages of a Clairefontaine notebook (I buy them in bulk whenever I’m in France; they’re small, cheap, and colorful). My research interests range widely in time, from the sixteenth century to the twentieth, but tend to coalesce around anatomy, natural history, the history of animals, the environment, and the history of food, and around the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in Western Europe. But I’ve also written about the role of history in ecological restoration, and about the environmental history of southern California. Here’s a recent Retrospective on my professional career. Other things I’m passionate about include music, food, fiction, and politics.
The Courtiers’ Anatomists: Animals and Humans in Louis XIV’s Paris is my most recent book, published in May 2015, which won the 2018 Pfizer Prize of the History of Science Society for best scholarly book. My other books include Obesity and Depression in the Enlightenment, a biography of the very fat physician George Cheyne (?1671-1743) and Experimenting with Humans and Animals: From Galen to Animal Rights as well as the annotated bibliography Natural History and the New World. With Patricia Fumerton at UCSB, I co-edited Ballads and Broadsides in Britain 1500-1800. I’ve also edited or co-edited several special issues, most recently a special issue of Notes and Records: the Royal Society Journal for the History of Science on “Biodiversity and the History of Scientific Environments,” co-edited with Georgina Montgomery. This volume was the result of a conference I organized as Horning Chair in the fall of 2018. My current research projects are on the history of the human skeleton, and on giants, fossil bones, and national identity in early modern Europe. I worked on the latter project in the spring and summer of 2019 (also known as the “before times”) at the Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France and then at the Descartes Center at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands. In 2021, I completed a second revised edition of Experimenting with Humans and Animals, which appears in August 2022. A full list of my publications may be found in the CV below. Have a look at my blog, Anatomia Animalia, and let me know what you think via the contact form below.