I research nineteenth-century American history, with an emphasis on popular culture and the history of science. My work concerns cultures of observation and introspection —  the modes of thinking and close-looking that people have employed to learn about themselves and the external world — and ways in which market society shapes knowledge.

Much of my work has centered on natural history and museums. My dissertation, The Phrenologists: Participatory Knowledge in Antebellum America, is about phrenology and the commercial circulation of new ideas about the self.


“The Antiquarian” lithograph, c. 1830. American Antiquarian Society.