Current Institutional Affiliation
Doctoral Candidate, History, Vanderbilt University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2018
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History, Vanderbilt University
Producing the Subterranean: Mining, Mobility, and the Science of Alexander von Humboldt

In the late eighteenth century, central Europeans discovered the subterranean anew, forging novel patterns of mobility and styles of thought as they dug mines to new depths and extracted mineral resources at an unprecedented rate. My dissertation project takes Germany's thriving mining industry, and the cave-going travel culture that flourished alongside it, as an ideal time and place in which to sound out the relationship between science and resource extraction, aesthetics and industry, in the Sattelzeit, the period between about 1750 and 1850 that bridges the "early modern" and the "modern." Part One of my dissertation studies this moment of discovery from various perspectives, asking how interest in resource extraction affected aesthetic and scientific views of nature. In taking underground mobility as an object of historical inquiry, Part One also seeks to draw out shifting conceptions of time and space, nature and nation. Answers to questions posed in Part One will provide a broad base upon which to make a case study of Alexander von Humboldt and his life-long connection to mines and miners—the task of Part Two. Here I will explore the way in which Humboldt's plant geography, cartography, and sciences of volume and verticality were shaped by mines, miners, and the "working world" they composed.