Professor of History; Director, Centre for the History of the Emotions
Location Arts Two 2.31
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7882 8425
I am a historian of philosophy, science, medicine, and religion, with particular expertise in the history of emotions, and in Victorian intellectual and cultural history.
My PhD (1996-2000) and British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship (2000-2003) at the University of Cambridge were followed by a period as a Lecturer in History at Lancaster.
- The science, philosophy, and experience of anger through history
- The history and meanings of ‘passions’, ‘emotions’, ‘affections’ and related categories in science, medicine, philosophy and theology
- The history of ‘altruism’ and Victorian theories of morality
- The life and thought of the Scottish philosopher and physician Thomas Brown (1778-1820)
- The relationship between science and religion
- Moral and emotional aspects of education
- Tears and weeping, especially in British history
- The cultural history of philosophy
Current PhD Students
I welcome applications from candidates wishing to undertake doctoral research in the following areas:
- History of passions, emotions, feelings and sensibility
- Cultural and social history of philosophy and philosophers
- History of science, medicine, psychiatry, and sexuality
- Intellectual, cultural, and religious history of modern Britain since the eighteenth century
- Weeping Britannia: Portrait of a Nation in Tears (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015)
- Enthusiasm Delineated: Varieties of Weeping in Eighteenth-Century Britain’, Litteraria Pragensia: Studies in Literature and Culture 22 (2012): 59–81. Open Access. See table of contents and abstracts for whole issue here.
- ‘La science du cerveau et la religion de l’humanité: Auguste Comte et l’altruisme dans l’Angleterre victorienne’, Revue d’Histoire des Sciences 65 (2012): 287–316.
- 'Educating the Emotions from Gradgrind to Goleman', Research Papers in Education 27 (2012): 481-495.
- '"Emotion": The History of a Keyword in Crisis', Emotion Review 4 (2012): 338-344. Open Access.
- 'The Tears of Mr Justice Willes', Journal of Victorian Culture 17 (2012): 1-23. Open Access.
- 'Feeling Differently: Using Historical Images to Teach Emotional Literacy in an East London School (2011). Open Access.
- 'Revolting Passions', Modern Theology 27 (2011): 298-312; reprinted in Faith, Rationality and the Passions, ed. Sarah Coakley (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012), pp. 181-195.
- (ed.) Thomas Brown: Selected Philosophical Writings (Imprint Academic, 2010).
- (Co-edited with Geoffrey Cantor and Stephen Pumfrey), Science and Religion: New Historical Perspectives (Cambridge University Press, 2010).
- ‘Darwin, religión y ciencia’ in Historia, Medicina, y Ciencia en Torno a Darwin (Madrid: Fundación de Ciencias de la Salud/British Council, 2008), pp. 149-62.
- The Invention of Altruism: Making Moral Meanings in Victorian Britain (Oxford: Oxford University Press for the British Academy, 2008).
- Science and Religion: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2008).
- 'Patients and Passions: Languages of Medicine and Emotion, 1789-1850', in Fay Bound Alberti (ed.), Medicine, Emotion, and Disease, 1750-1950 (Palgrave, 2006), pp 22-52.
- 'Religion and Science', in John Hinnells (ed), The Routledge Companion to the Study of Religion (London: Routledge, 2005), pp 456-472; second edition (2009), pp. 509-525.
- 'The Invention of Altruism: Auguste Comte's Positive Polity and Respectable Unbelief in Victorian Britain', in D Knight and M Eddy (eds),Science and Beliefs: From Natural Philosophy to Natural Science (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005), pp 195-211
- .How to Get a First: The Essential Guide to Academic Success (London: Routledge, 2004).
- 'Agnosticism', 'Altruism' and 'Natural Theology', in Maryanne Cline Horowitz (ed), New Dictionary of the History of Ideas (New York: Scribner's, 2004).
- 'Herbert Spencer and Altruism: The Sternness and Kindness of a Victorian Moralist', in Greta Jones and Robert A. Peel (eds), Herbert Spencer: The Intellectual Legacy (London: Galton Institute, 2004), pp 85-124.
- From Passions to Emotions: The Creation of a Secular Psychological Category (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003; Paperback edition, 2006).
- (ed) The Life and Collected Works of Thomas Brown (1778-1820), 8 vols. (Bristol: Thoemmes Press, 2003).
- 'Looking beyond "the rumpus about Moses and monkeys": Religion and the Sciences in the Nineteenth Century', Nineteenth-Century Studies, 17 (2003), 25-33.
- ‘Scientific Atheism as a Faith Tradition', Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 33 (2002), 337-59.
- Science and Religion: A Very Short Introduction, won the 2009 Dingle Prize, awarded biennially by the British Society for the History of Science for the best book in the field accessible to a wide readership
Membership of professional associations or societies
- Fellow of the Royal Historical Society
- British Society for the History of Science (former Council Member)
- Editorial board member, Nineteenth Century Studies.
Appearances in the media
I have worked as a presenter, consultant and contributor on a range of television and radio projects:
- In 2014 I wrote and presented a 15-part series for BBC Radio 4 entitled 'Five Hundred Years of Friendship', and commissioned a series of accompanying blog posts
- In January 2013 I presented a 'Sunday Feature' on BBC Radio 3, Margaret Are You Grieving: A Cultural History of Weeping.
- In 2012 I was the academic consultant, and an interviewee, for a three-part BBC Two series, Ian Hislop's Stiff Upper Lip: An Emotional History of Britain.
- In 2011, a BBC News magazine article based on my research into the history of weeping and the British 'stiff upper lip' was published in conjunction with a BBC Four programme about crying presented by Jo Brand.
- In 2010 I presented The End of God? A Horizon Guide to Science and Religion on BBC Four. An accompanying feature article is available on the BBC News website.
- I have also written about his research on tears for Aeon Magazine and the Huffington Post.