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Robin Vandome

Lecturer in American Intellectual and Cultural History, Faculty of Arts

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Expertise Summary

My current research focuses on the relation of theory and practice in the natural sciences, and seeks to situate debates on this topic in the context of broader trends in American intellectual history during the second half of the nineteenth century. My doctoral research focused on the shifting epistemic claims made in particular disciplines in the earth and human sciences, within particular institutional and cultural networks rooted in established centres of learning. The title of my PhD dissertation is "Intellectual Transitions in American Geology, Palaeontology and Anthropology, 1850-1900," and the thesis was completed in 2009. Some key figures in my research include the geologists Thomas C. Chamberlin and Nathaniel Southgate Shaler; the palaeontologist Edward D. Cope; and anthropologists John Wesley Powell and Franz Boas.

I am now looking to develop historical understandings of the emergence and professionalisation of different scientific disciplines during the later nineteenth century, and embed these changes in the larger context of shifting philosophical and religious assumptions. One focus, on which I am writing a research article, is how conceptions of scientific knowledge and practice were both deployed and revised as a means of justifying a larger pedagogical aim at the University of Chicago in the 1890s. More generally, my interests also relate to the development of the philosophy of pragmatism during this period, the growing influence of logical positivism on American science in the early twentieth century, and questions relating to the transition from romanticism to modernism in varied spheres of American culture and intellectual life.

My previous research has included a masters dissertation on the work and thought of the American historian Richard Hofstadter, and his relation to the New York Intellectuals and debates over liberalism in the decades following the Second World War.

Teaching Summary

I teach on two core second-year modules in American intellectual and cultural history from English settlement to the present, and I am interested in offering more specialised optional modules ranging… read more

Research Summary

My current research focuses on the relation of theory and practice in the natural sciences, and seeks to situate debates on this topic in the context of broader trends in American intellectual… read more

Selected Publications

I teach on two core second-year modules in American intellectual and cultural history from English settlement to the present, and I am interested in offering more specialised optional modules ranging across the history of science, technology, and religion in the United States, particularly in the nineteenth century. At present I offer a final-year and Masters-level module on the history of Darwinism and Creationism in the United States.

Current Research

My current research focuses on the relation of theory and practice in the natural sciences, and seeks to situate debates on this topic in the context of broader trends in American intellectual history during the second half of the nineteenth century. My doctoral research focused on the shifting epistemic claims made in particular disciplines in the earth and human sciences, within particular institutional and cultural networks rooted in established centres of learning. The title of my PhD dissertation is "Intellectual Transitions in American Geology, Palaeontology and Anthropology, 1850-1900," and the thesis was completed in 2009. Some key figures in my research include the geologists Thomas C. Chamberlin and Nathaniel Southgate Shaler; the palaeontologist Edward D. Cope; and anthropologists John Wesley Powell and Franz Boas.

I am now looking to develop historical understandings of the emergence and professionalisation of different scientific disciplines during the later nineteenth century, and embed these changes in the larger context of shifting philosophical and religious assumptions. One focus, on which I am writing a research article, is how conceptions of scientific knowledge and practice were both deployed and revised as a means of justifying a larger pedagogical aim at the University of Chicago in the 1890s. More generally, my interests also relate to the development of the philosophy of pragmatism during this period, the growing influence of logical positivism on American science in the early twentieth century, and questions relating to the transition from romanticism to modernism in varied spheres of American culture and intellectual life.

Past Research

Previous research has included a masters dissertation on the work and thought of the American historian Richard Hofstadter, and his relation to the New York Intellectuals and debates over liberalism in the decades following the Second World War.

Future Research

I am currently working on a book provisionally titled 'The Romance of Knowledge: American Endeavors in the Natural and Human Sciences, 1850-1900,' ranging across several scientific disciplines including the earth and life sciences. I am also pursuing research into turn-of-the-century American psychology, looking beyond central figures such as William James to consider the contributions of figures such as Hugo Munsterberg and James McKeen Cattell. Another current project will consider the representation of scientific methods in American literature, including the science fiction of astronomer Simon Newcomb, as well as the fictional and non-fictional work of Henry Adams.

School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies

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