Recently Funded Activities


PI: AHRC Networking Grant
CO-I Vera Keller 2018-2019

The shift from the purposefully disordered Kunstkammer or curiosity cabinet of the Renaissance to the ordered Enlightenment museum is well known. What has to be explored fully is the process through which this transformation occurred. Collective Wisdom explored how and why members of the Royal Society, the Society of Antiquaries of London and the Leopoldina (in Halle, Germany) collected specimens of the natural world, art, and archaeology in the 17th and 18th centuries.

In three international workshops, we analysed the connections between these scholarly organisations, natural philosophy, and antiquarianism (early archaeology), and to what extent these networks shaped the formation of early museums and their categorisation of knowledge.

We were funded by a networking grant award from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and our project partners included the Leopoldina, The Royal Society, The Society of Antiquaries of London, the Francke Foundation, The University of Lincoln and the University of Oregon.




The award was funded by the UK AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award Programme so I could supervise a PhD student to conduct research on the lives and letters of Emanuel Mendes da Costa (1717-91).  Da Costa was a Royal Society secretary, conchologist, antiquarian, and member of the Sephardic London Community. He was a leading collector in the crux of a transition in natural history, moving from baroque cabinets of curiosities to Linnaean Enlightenment taxonomy. By studying his scientific works and largely unknown correspondence network in the Royal Society, British Library, the Lincoln Cathedral, and other repositories, my student Aron Sterk analysed both his fixed beliefs and impact of innovation in natural history.  In Dr Sterk’s analysis of Da Costa’s life and letters, he also elucidated the status of Jews in Georgian England, and the social norms and multicultural and multinational bounds of scientific reputations within and without The Royal Society. 

A Google Arts and Culture slideshow about Dr Sterk's work is here.


The Martin Lister Correspondence 2009-2012

Early Modern Letters Online (EMLO) at the University of Oxford is a combined finding aid and editorial interface for basic descriptions of early modern correspondence: a collaboratively populated union catalogue of sixteenth-, seventeenth-, and eighteenth-century letters.

I joined the Cultures of Knowledge project during its first pilot phase and, in the course of my work to edit and publish the correspondence of Martin Lister, contributed the metadata of his correspondence to EMLO.  My work was funded by the Mellon Foundation.

The first volume of his correspondence, published by Brill in February 2015, spans the years 1662–1677, and it is to be followed by two subsequent volumes.


The Travel Journal of Dr Martin Lister (1639-1712), 2011-2012

This online resource provides a critical edition of the travel journals and memoirs of English physician Dr. Martin Lister (1639-1712) held in the Bodleian Library.

As a medical student in Montpellier, Lister kept pocket books of his observations, books read, and dissection sessions. I traced Lister’s peregrinatio medica by following it myself in car and caravan, experiencing his travels for the purposes of medical education, from England to Montpellier and home again via Paris. The site also includes my photographs of his journey. My work was funded by the British Academy.