Research Interests of Felicity Roberts


I have two main research interests:
The first arose from my MA in Eighteenth-Century Studies at King’s College London, in conjunction with the British Museum, and concerns women’s involvement in the early modern culture of natural history, and the ‘hybrid’ texts, pictures and objects that resulted from this involvement.  In my MA dissertation I focused on the flower collages of Mary Delany, and the children’s natural history books of Charlotte Smith.  I argued that the reason for their ‘hybrid’ quality lay in natural history’s gendered theories and practices, which helped to constrain women’s experience, notably their participation in natural history itself, and led to women’s figuration of their knowledge of nature through polite artistic productions.
The second has arisen from my role as Project Officer for the Natural History Museum, British Museum and British Library-led initiative to digitise, research and reconnect the objects from the collection of the eighteenth-century physician Sir Hans Sloane, now dispersed across these three institutions.  It concerns the collaborative image-making practices of Sloane and his contemporaries, specifically how the commission, creation, collection, exchange, cataloguing and copying of images generated knowledge about the natural world, and how this intersected with other, more text-based collaborative knowledge-making practices of the period.  I am currently waiting to hear whether an AHRC CDA application to research the British Museum’s holdings of Sloane natural history drawings has been successful.

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