Research of David Beck

My thesis, which I’m writing up at the moment, focuses upon the county natural history, a genre of writing unique to England in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century- better-known authors include Robert Plot and John Aubrey. All the authors I study were involved with the Royal Society and utilised methodologies in their research which have recently been studied by historians of science: detailed observation, the assessment of social testimony, experimentation and object collection among others. However, the use of the collected information by county natural historians within emplaced narratives is best understood as “historical” in nature. As such, I aim to situate the genre primarily as a successor to local antiquarianism in Tudor and early Stuart England, while reflecting on the meaning of “place” (both geographical and historical) in the period.

More widely I am currently interested in questions regarding the early enlightenment, the relationship between the landscape, memory and science, and historiography.

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