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Overview

Professor Matthew Daniel Eddy

Professor

BA, MA, PhD


Affiliations
AffiliationRoom numberTelephone
Professor in the Department of Philosophy  
Associate Member in the Centre for Humanities Engaging Science and Society (CHESS)  
Member of the Centre for Visual Arts and Culture  
Member of the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies  

Biography

I am Durham University’s Chair and Professor in the History and Philosophy of Science and the Co-Director of the Institute for Medieval and Early Modern Studies. I study the history of science in Europe and its former empires. I publish mainly on the communications media and information technologies used by everyday people to learn, judge and manipulate environmental and medical knowledge. My work asks how the historical evolution of seemingly simple devices such as notebooks, databases, diagrams and graphs offer deep insight into the ways in which different social groups used science to make knowledge claims about the natural world and the human body.


My book, Media and the Mind: Art, Science and Notebooks as Paper Machines, 1700-1830 (Chicago: 2022), explores how children, women and middle-class professionals used media devices to mobilise scientific and medical knowledge in ways that enhanced their ability to judge the accuracy, utility, and morality of the data they encountered. Since August 2022 I’ve led the project Caroline Herschel, Astronomical Notebooks and the Material Culture of Predigital Communication Systems, funded by the AHRC. The team is rewriting our understanding of the role played by women within the world of British imperial science.


I am currently working on two projects. The first project is a series of related case studies on the media technologies that women used to improve their physical and mental health. The second project explores how medical professionals of Indian and African descent mobilised their knowledge of the British Empire’s health information systems to expose the immoral usage of scientific data during the nineteenth century. Themes of the project are addressed in my recent Conversation article about the African American physician Dr James McCune Smith.


Over the course of my career I’ve held professorial appointments at Durham, Caltech and Uppsala University, and fellowships at Harvard University, MIT, the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, UCLA’s Clark Library, the Science Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia, and the Huntington Library. My research has been profiled by Inside Higher Ed, the BBC, Yahoo News and Apple News, and I have acted as a gratis historical consultant for several BBC documentaries.


I teach undergraduate courses and supervise research projects on themes relevant to the modern history of science and its many social and cultural connections to race, gender, health, technology and the environment. I also have longstanding interests in the history of religion, ethics and politics.

I live in Durham with my wife, children and a pet spider named Marioula. My articles and books are downloadable from Academia. My twitter handle is @BookScribbler.

Contact

Office Location: Durham Univeresity Department of Philosophy, 50-51 Old Elvet, DH1 3HN, second floor, Room 203.

Office Hours: Michaelmas Term (Research Leave); Epiphany and Easter Terms, Monday, 11:00-1400.

Contact: Email

PhD Students
  • Lenka Schmalisch, Emotion, Autobiography and Magdalena Rettigová's Vision of Domestic Health in Enlightenment Bohemia.
  • John Shepherd, Criminology, Juvenile Delinquency and the Human Sciences in Early Twentieth Century America.
  • Odile Lehen, Caroline Herschel, Astronomical Notebooks and the Material Culture of Predigital Communication Systems.
  • He Cui, John Locke and the Media Technologies of Human Cognition in Early Modern Britain.

Research interests

  • History and Philosophy of:
  • Science & Technology
  • Climate & the Environment
  • Race & Politics
  • Gender & Sexuality
  • Science & Religion

Supervision students