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Retrospectives: Unconventional paths

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 November 2019

Oregon State University, USA. Email:


I am the first to admit that my career has not followed a conventional path. But in talking to my colleagues, I am not sure that there is a conventional path to an academic career. This retrospective is both a look at how the profession has changed over the forty years since I began graduate school in the late 1970s, and a reflection on my own trajectory within that profession. Historiographical references reflect my own views and are not meant to be comprehensive. I first discovered the history of science as an undergraduate history major at Connecticut College in the early 1970s. The course of physics for non-majors I took with David Fenton was based on Harvard Project Physics, which had been developed in the 1960s by two professors of science education, F. James Rutherford and Fletcher G. Watson, and the historian of science Gerald Holton. We actually wrote term papers for the class; mine was on the theory that Stonehenge was an astronomical observatory.

Copyright © British Society for the History of Science 2019

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For their comments, I wish to thank Benita Blessing, Lucinda Cole, Michael A. Osborne and Anna Marie Roos. They are not responsible for any of the opinions expressed herein.


1 Holton, Gerald, ‘Harvard project physics: a report on its aims and current status’, Physics Education (1969) 4, pp. 1925CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

2 For a summary see Palmer, William G., ‘The burden of proof: J.H. Hexter and Christopher Hill’, Journal of British Studies (1979) 19, pp. 122129CrossRefGoogle Scholar. The TLS articles appeared in November 1975.

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5 Anita Guerrini, ‘Newtonian matter theory, chemistry, and medicine, 1690–1713’, PhD dissertation, Indiana University, 1983.

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8 Simon Schaffer, ‘Newtonian cosmology and the steady state’, PhD thesis, Cambridge University, 1980; Rousseau, G.S. and Porter, Roy (eds.), The Ferment of Knowledge: Studies in the Historiography of Eighteenth-Century Science, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

9 Worster, Donald, Nature's Economy: The Roots of Ecology, San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1977Google Scholar; Cronon, William, Changes in the Land, New York: Hill and Wang, 1983Google Scholar.

10 Guerrini, Anita, Natural History and the New World, 1524–1770: An Annotated Bibliography, Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society Library, 1986Google Scholar. An updated online edition appeared in 2002, at

11 Guerrini, Anita, Obesity and Depression in the Enlightenment: The Life and Times of George Cheyne, Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2000Google Scholar. I have always hated the title. I must thank Bob Markley, who persuaded me to send the manuscript to the series he was then editing at Oklahoma.

12 An important book on this topic is Welsch, Kathleen A. (ed.), Those Winter Sundays: Female Academics and Their Working-Class Parents, Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2005Google Scholar.

13 Robert B. Townsend and Julia Brookins, ‘The troubled academic job market for history’, Perspectives on History, February 2016, at I should add that there were a lot more PhDs in 2009 than in 1984.

14 Thomas, Keith, Man and the Natural World, London: Allen Lane, 1983Google Scholar; Ritvo, Harriet, The Animal Estate, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1987Google Scholar. Ritvo gives a good overview of animal history in the 1980s in the introduction to her Noble Cows and Hybrid Zebras: Essays on Animals and History, Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2010, pp. 1–12.

15 French, Richard, Antivivisection and Medical Science in Victorian Society, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1975Google Scholar; Maehle, A.H. and Tröhler, U., ‘Animal experimentation from antiquity to the end of the eighteenth century’, in Rupke, Nicolaas (ed.), Vivisection in Historical Perspective, New York: Routledge, 1987, pp. 1447Google Scholar.

16 Guerrini, Anita, ‘The ethics of animal experimentation in seventeenth-century England’, Journal of the History of Ideas (1989) 50, pp. 391407CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed.

17 Guerrini, Anita, Experimenting with Humans and Animals: From Galen to Animal Rights, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003Google Scholar.

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19 Nancy Siraisi, ‘Introduction’, in Early Anatomy in Comparative Perspective, op. cit. (18), pp. 3–10, 10.

20 Richardson, Ruth, Death, Dissection, and the Destitute, London: Routledge, 1988Google Scholar.

21 Roger, Jacques, Les sciences de la vie dans la pensée française au XVIIIe siècle, nouvelle édition, Paris: Albin Michel, 1993Google Scholar; translated as The Life Sciences in Eighteenth-Century French Thought (ed. Keith Benson, trans. Robert Ellrich), Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1997. Salomon-Bayet, Claire, L'institution de la science et l'expérience du vivant, Paris: Flammarion, 1978Google Scholar.

22 Guerrini, Anita, The Courtiers’ Anatomists: Animals and Humans in Louis XIV's Paris, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2015CrossRefGoogle Scholar; articles that were not part of the book project include Guerrini, , ‘Duverney's skeletons’, Isis (2003) 94, pp. 577603CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed; Guerrini, , ‘Anatomists and entrepreneurs in early eighteenth-century London’, Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences (2004) 59, pp. 219239CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed; Guerrini, , ‘The creativity of God and the order of nature: anatomizing monsters in the early eighteenth century’, in Wolfe, Charles (ed.), Monsters and Philosophy, London: KCL Press, 2005, pp. 153168Google Scholar; Guerrini, , ‘Alexander Monro primus and the moral theatre of anatomy’, The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation (2006) 47, pp. 118CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Guerrini, , ‘Advertising monstrosity: broadsides and human exhibition in early eighteenth-century Britain’, in Fumerton, Patricia and Guerrini, Anita, with McAbee, Kris (eds.), British Ballads and Broadsides, 1500–1800, Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2010, pp. 109127Google Scholar; Guerrini, , ‘The value of a dead body’, in Deutsch, Helen and Terrall, Mary (eds.), Vital Matters, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2012, pp. 246264CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Guerrini, , ‘Experiments, causation, and the uses of vivisection in the first half of the seventeenth century’, Journal of the History of Biology (2013) 46, pp. 227254CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed; Guerrini, , ‘The hermaphrodite of Charing Cross’, in Stewart, Larry and Dyck, Erika (eds.), The Uses of Humans in Experiment, Leiden: Brill, 2016, pp. 2852Google Scholar.

23 Meli, Domenico Bertoloni, Mechanism, Experiment, Disease, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011Google Scholar; Meli, Bertoloni, Visualizing Disease, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2018CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Bouley, Bradford, Pious Postmortems, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017Google Scholar; Dacome, Lucia, Malleable Anatomies, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Donato, Maria-Pia, Morte improvvisi, Rome: Carocci, 2010Google Scholar; translated as Sudden death, trans. Valentina Mazzei, Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2014; Hendriksen, Marieke, Elegant Anatomy, Leiden: Brill, 2015CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Klestinec, Cynthia, Theaters of Anatomy, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011Google Scholar; Knoeff, Rina and Zwijnenberg, Robert (eds.), The Fate of Anatomical Collections, Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2015Google Scholar; Mandressi, Raphael, Le regard de l'anatomiste, Paris: Seuil, 2003Google Scholar; Margócsy, Daniel, Commercial Visions, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2014CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Margócsy, Daniel, Somos, Mark and Joffe, Stephen N., The Fabrica of Andreas Vesalius: A Worldwide Descriptive Census, Ownership, and Annotations of the 1543 and 1555 Editions, Leiden: Brill, 2018CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Messbarger, Rebecca, The Lady Anatomist, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2010CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

24 Guerrini, Anita, ‘The ghastly kitchen’, History of Science (2016) 54, pp. 78104CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

25 Guerrini, Anita, ‘A diet for a sensitive soul: vegetarianism in eighteenth-century Britain’, Eighteenth-Century Life (1999) 23, pp. 3442Google Scholar.

26 Guerrini, Anita, ‘Introduction, special review section, “The new culinary history”’, Early Science and Medicine (1999) 4, pp. 164165CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

27 Laudan, Rachel, ‘A kind of chemistry: the origins of modern French food’, Petits propos culinaires (1999) 62, pp. 822Google Scholar; E.C. Spary and Barbara Orland (eds.), Food and Medicine 1650–1820, special issue of Studies in the History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences (2013) 43; Spary, E.C., Eating the Enlightenment: Food and the Sciences in Paris, 1670–1760, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2012CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Spary, , Feeding France: New Sciences of Food, 1760–1815, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Williams, Elizabeth, ‘Sciences of appetite in the Enlightenment, 1750–1800’, Studies in the History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences (2012) 43, pp. 392404CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed; Guerrini, Anita, ‘Health, national character and the English diet in 1700’, Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences (2012) 43, pp. 349356CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed; Guerrini, , ‘The impossible ideal of moderation: food, drink, and longevity’, in Knoeff, Rina and Kennaway, James (eds.), The Six Non-naturals: Lifestyle and Medicine before Modernity, Routledge, in press 2019Google Scholar; Guerrini, ‘A natural history of the kitchen’, in E.C. Spary and Anya Zilberstein (eds.), Food Matters: Critical Histories of Food and the Sciences, Osiris, forthcoming 2020.

28 Among Albala, Ken's numerous works see Eating Right in the Renaissance, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002Google Scholar; Cooking in Europe 1250–1650, Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2006; Smith, Pamela, The Body of the Artisan, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2004CrossRefGoogle Scholar;; Elaine Leong, Recipes and Everyday Knowledge, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2018;

29 Spary and Zilberstein, op. cit. (27).

30 See most recently Haraway, Donna, Staying with the Trouble, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2016CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

31 Fudge, Erica, ‘A left-handed blow: writing the history of animals’, in Rothfels, Nigel (ed.), Representing Animals, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2002, pp. 318Google Scholar.

32 Carson, James P., ‘Thinking animals’, Eighteenth-Century Studies (2016) 49, pp. 531542, 533Google Scholar.

33 Guerrini, The Courtiers’ Anatomists, op. cit. (22), pp. 3–5, 118–127.

34 An excellent survey of recent work is Cole, Lucinda, ‘Animal studies and the eighteenth century: the nature of the beast’, Literature Compass, 2019, doi: 10.1111/lic3.12536CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

35 Appuhn, Karl, ‘Ecologies of beef: eighteenth-century epizootics and the environmental history of early modern Europe’, Environmental History (2010) 15, pp. 268287CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Mitman, Gregg, Reel Nature, Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1999Google Scholar; Daston, Lorraine and Mitman, Gregg (eds.), Thinking with animals, New York: Columbia University Press, 2005Google Scholar; Pimentel, Juan, The Rhinoceros and the Megatherium, trans. Mason, Peter, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2017CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Milam, Erika Lorraine, Creatures of Cain: The Hunt for Human Nature in Cold War America, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2019Google Scholar; Rees, Amanda (ed.), Animal Agents, BJHS Themes (2017), 2Google Scholar.

36 Guerrini, Anita, ‘The trouble with plovers’, in Keulartz, Jozef, Drenthen, Martin and Proctor, James D. (eds.), New Visions of Nature: Complexity and Authenticity, Cham: Springer, 2009, pp. 7589CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Guerrini, Anita and Dugan, Jenifer E., ‘Informing ecological restoration in a coastal environment’, in Hall, Marcus (ed.), Restoration and History, New York: Routledge, 2010, pp. 131142Google Scholar; Higgs, Eric, Falk, Donald, Guerrini, Anita, Hall, Marcus, Harris, Jim, Hobbs, Richard, Jackson, Stephen, Rhemtulla, Jeanine and Throop, William, ‘The changing role of history in restoration ecology’, Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment (2014) 12(9), pp. 499506CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Beller, Erin, McClenachan, Loren, Trant, Andrew, Sanderson, Eric W., Rhemtulla, Jeanine, Guerrini, Anita, Grossinger, Robin and Higgs, Eric, ‘Toward principles of historical ecology’, American Journal of Botany (2017) 104(5), pp. 14CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed; Guerrini, Anita, Burnette, Donald and Dugan, Jenifer E., ‘Invisible landscapes: perception, heritage, and coastal change in southern California’, in Price, Lisa and Marchi, Nemer (eds.), Coastal Heritage and Cultural Resilience, Cham: Springer, 2018, pp. 2338CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

37 Guerrini, Anita, ‘Deep history, evolutionary history, and animals in the Anthropocene’, in Keulartz, Jozef and Bovenkerk, Beatrice (eds.), Animal Ethics in the Age of Humans, Cham: Springer, 2016, pp. 2537CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Guerrini, , ‘Animals and ecological science’, in Kalof, Linda (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Animal Studies, New York: Oxford University Press, 2016, pp. 489505Google Scholar.

38 See, for example, Jordyn Brown, ‘State reviewing how it divvies up higher education money’, Register-Guard (Eugene, Oregon), 25 August 2019, at, quoting a state official about differential state funding for STEM majors versus liberal-arts majors: ‘Our intent is not to undervalue the liberal arts, but the state has decided it wants to generate more STEM graduates because that's what the industry has said it needs’, not specifying what industry.

39 Katie Rose Guest Pryal, ‘Quit lit is about labor conditions’, Women in Higher Education, 7 June 2018, at My thanks to Laura Miller for this reference.

40 Daniel Bessner and Michael Brenes, ‘A moral stain on the profession’, Chronicle of Higher Education, 26 April 2019, at

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