My research analyses networks and exchanges amongst seventeenth‐century natural philosophers, with a focus upon the material and visual culture of early modern science. As part of my work as the Lister Research Fellow at the University of Oxford, I am examining the work of Dr Martin Lister (1639-1712). Lister was a Royal physician, the first conchologist and arachnologist, and his study of natural history was a conceptual bridge between the work of Renaissance naturalists and those of the Enlightenment. Like Darwin two hundred years later, Lister corresponded with merchants and traders around the globe to acquire data for his research, and these objects and live specimens played as large a role in his work as the studies in natural history he pursued at Cambridge. Fossil and rock samples led to his invention of the first stratigraphic map, and spiders, sent by friends and kept in captivity, revealed to him the elaborate courtship rituals of the male to avoid cannibalisation by larger females. He was also an illustrator himself and trained his daughters Anna and Susanna to engrave works for his masterwork on shells, the Historiae Conchyliorum (1685-92; 2d ed. 1692-97). Lister bequeathed the 1000 copperplates that they created to the Ashmolean Museum, and I am currently analysing the plates with the assistance of the Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art at Oxford. There will also be an exhibit about Lister and plates, entitled “The Art of Science” in the proscholium of the Bodleian Library in September 2012.
Selected Publications include:
Web of Nature: Martin Lister (1639-1712), the first arachnologist (Brill, August 2011).
“The Art of Science: the ‘rediscovery’ of the Lister Copperplates“, Notes and Records of the Royal Society, published online before print, 14 December 2011.
“A Speculum of Chymical Practice: Isaac Newton, Martin Lister, and the Making of Telescopic Mirrors”, Notes and Records of the Royal Society, 64, 2 (June 2010), pp. 105-20.
“All that Glitters: Early Modern Perceptions of Fool’s Gold”, Endeavour, 32, 4 (December 2008), pp. 147-151.
“Luminaries in Medicine: Richard Mead, James Gibbs, and the Influence of the Sun and the Moon on the Human Body in Early Modern England”, Bulletin of the History of Medicine 74, 3 (2000), pp. 433-457