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Lydia Barnett

I joined the Stanford History Department as a graduate student in 2004, after graduating from Oberlin College in 2003 with majors in History and Philosophy. My guiding research interest for the last few years has been the relationship between science and religion in early modern Europe. I've worked on a number of 17th and 18th century figures who proposed various ways of harmonizing natural knowledge and religious faith, including the British chemist Robert Boyle, the Swiss geologist Jean-André Deluc, and the British natural philosopher Thomas Burnet, who originated the 18th century genre of physico-theological writing known as 'theories of the earth'. My dissertation, provisionally titled "The Living Rock: Natural and Sacred Histories of the Earth, 1680-1740," takes Burnet as the starting point for an exploration of the multiple forces - literary and philosophical, cultural and religious, economic and political - which reconfigured the earth and its history as a subject of natural knowledge in the early Enlightenment. Future projects I'd love to pursue after the dissertation include: natural history, moral economy, and regimes of land use; the concept of authorship in early modern science, especially as it was deployed in scientific controversies; economies of fossil collecting and the unseen, lower-class labor which often went into the making of large and famous collections; and a long history of ideas about the earth's future in religion, popular culture and natural science.