A.B., Harvard University; M.Phil., Cambridge University; M.A., Ph.D., University of California (Berkeley)
Assistant Professor of History
Intellectual and cultural historian of early modern Europe
I focus primarily on the intellectual history of the German- and English-speaking parts of Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The topics touched by my research include the history of philosophy, universities and academic culture, political and economic thought, the arts, and religion and its relationship to modernity. The book I am now preparing, The Origins of Modern Aesthetic Theory, is an attempt to explain why early eighteenth-century Scotland and Germany witnessed an explosion of interest in theorizing about beauty and the arts, now known as the moment when modern aesthetic theory was born. The new theories of beauty and the arts, I argue, grew out of ongoing debates about theology, moral philosophy, and natural law. I am also beginning a project on the concept of original sin in Enlightenment Europe and a project tracing the emergence of “style” as a concept important to art criticism.
My teaching includes courses on early modern Europe and early modern Germany, as well as courses that delve more deeply into topics and problems in European intellectual and cultural history: the early history of economic thought, the Enlightenment, theories and practices of religious toleration, and aspects of visual and material culture.