Professor Paul Elliott

Position: Reader in Modern History

College: College of Arts, Humanities and Education

Subject area: History

Research Centre: Identity, Conflict and Representation

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  • Year Tutor
  • Admissions Tutor
  • January Start Tutor

Professional interests

  • Special Lecturer in Cultural and Historical Geography, School of Geography, Nottingham University

Research interests

Interdisciplinary and collaborative in nature, utilising approaches from history, the social sciences, cultural and historical geography and cultural history. 

  • Cultural and historical geography, urban studies, landscape history, history of geographical ideas.
  • Intellectual and scientific history, history of medicine.
  • British local and regional history and identity; urban government and society.
  • The history of education. 

Arboretums Project: "Conversing with other nations" (2004-2007) 

Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (£220,000 approx. with full economic costing). 

Based at the School of Geography, University of Nottingham, this project was devised by Paul Elliott, Charles Watkins and Stephen Daniels. Charles Watkins and Stephen Daniels were the directors and Paul Elliott was the research fellow. The project explores the cultural and historical geographies of arboretums and tree collections and originated in studies of individual arboretums, landscape iconography and arboriculture. Although primarily historical, the project addresses questions concerning the design, restoration and management of past and contemporary arboretums and the tensions between aesthetics and taxonomies and makes a major contribution to our understanding of the geographies of scientific culture, natural history, horticulture and gardening. It draws upon fresh approaches in landscape history, history of science, sociologies of scientific knowledge, geography and cultural studies, especially spatial approaches to scientific culture and communication networks.  

In addition to a conference at the Linnean Society in 2006, outcomes of the project include a monograph and an edited collection:

  • (with Charles Watkins and Stephen Daniels) The British Arboretum: Trees, Science and Culture in the Nineteenth Century (Forthcoming Pickering and Chatto, London, 2011)
  • Edited (with Charles Watkins and Stephen Daniels), Cultural and Historical Geographies of the Arboretum, special issue of Garden History (2007). 

Further details of the project and conference 

Postgraduate Students

Dr. Elliott welcomes postgraduate students with research interests in any of the following areas:

  • Intellectual and scientific history, history of medicine.
  • Cultural and historical geography, landscape history, history of geographical ideas.
  • Botanical and arboricultural history
  • British and Irish urban, local and regional history.
  • History of education.

Membership of professional bodies

  • Since 2001 I have been an Associate Editor of the journal Urban History, published by Cambridge University Press.
  • I am responsible for writing the early modern periodicals review, 1500-1800.
  • Urban History occupies a central place in historical scholarship, with an outstanding record of interdisciplinary contributions, and a broad-based and distinguished panel of referees and international advisors. Each issue features wideranging research articles covering social, economic, political and cultural aspects of the history of towns and cities. The journal coverage is worldwide in its scope

Recent publications

Some Recent Publications

  • 'Towards a geography of English scientific culture: provincial identity and literary and philosophical culture in the county town, 1750-1850', Urban History, 32 (2005), 391-412.
  • 'The Derbyshire Darwinians: the persistence of Erasmus Darwin's influence on a British provincial literary and scientific community, c. 1780-1850', in, C. U. M. Smith and R. Arnott eds., The Genius of Erasmus Darwin, Ashgate, Aldershot, 2005.
  • "Food to the mind and rapture to the sense": scientific culture in Nottingham, 1740-1800', Nottinghamshire History Lecture 2004, Transactions of the Thoroton Society, 109, (2006), 1-13.
  • 'Medicine, scientific culture and urban improvement in early nineteenth-century England: the politics of the Derbyshire General Infirmary', in J. Reinarz ed., Medicine and the Midlands, 1750-1950, special issue of Midland History, (2007).
  • (with Stephen Daniels) 'The "school of true, useful and universal science": freemasonry, natural philosophy and scientific culture in eighteenth-century England', British Journal for the History of Science, 41 (2006).
  • 'Politics, dissent and urban development in Georgian provincial society: the campaigns for Nottingham enclosure during the 1780s', Transactions of the Thoroton Society, 110 (2007).
  • "More subtle than the electric aura": Georgian medical electricity, the spirit and animation and the development of Erasmus Darwin's psychophysiology', Medical History 52 (2008), 195-230.
  • (with Derek Hampson, Peter Suchin and Charles Watkins) The Loves of the Plants, Kent Institute of Art and Design/University of Nottingham, 2004.
  • (with Stephen Daniels), 'Pestalozzianism and scientific education in nineteenth-century England: Beatus Heldenmaier and the Worksop Pestalozzian Institution, Nottinghamshire', History of Education, 34 (2005), 295-314.
  • 'William George Spencer (1790-1860): mathematical, geographical and scientific education in nineteenth-century England', History of Education, 33 (2004), 391-418.
  • (with Stephen Daniels), 'Pestalozzi, Fellenberg and geographical education in nineteenth century England', Journal of Historical Geography (2006).
  • (with Stephen Daniels), 'Georgian geographical education, natural philosophy and the development of the English grammar school curriculum, 1680-1830', History of Education.
  • (with Charles Watkins and Stephen Daniels), 'The Nottingham Arboretum: natural history, education and leisure in a Victorian regional centre', Urban History 35 (2008), 48-71
  • (with Charles Watkins and Stephen Daniels), 'Cultural geographies of the arboretum' in, Elliott, Watkins and Daniels eds., Cultural Geographies of the Arboretum, special issue of Garden History, 2007.
  • (with Charles Watkins and Stephen Daniels), 'William Barron and British arboriculture', in special arboretums issue of Garden History, 2007
  • 'Intellectuals', essay for Ray Hutchison ed., Encyclopaedia of Urban Studies, 2 volumes (Sage Publications, University of Wisconsin, 2009)
  • (with Stephen Daniels), "Outline maps of knowledge": John Aikin's geographical imagination', in I. Inkster and F. James eds., The Dissenting Mind: The Aikin Family, 1740s-1860s (Cambridge University Press, 2011)
  • 'Arboricultural aesthetics, botany, and improvement in Georgian England: Erasmus Darwin's trees', in Elizabeth Heckendorn Cook, Giulia Pacini and Laura Auricchio, eds., Arboreal Values: Trees and Forests in Europe, North America, and the Caribbean, 1660-1830 (Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century, The Voltaire Foundation, 2012)
  • Enlightenment, Modernity and Science: Geographies of Scientific and Improvement Culture in Georgian England (I. B. Tauris, 2010)
  • (with Charles Watkins and Stephen Daniels) The British Arboretum: Trees, Science and Culture in the Nineteenth Century (Pickering and Chatto, 2011)
    The Derby Philosophers: Science and Culture in British Urban Society, 1750-1850 (Manchester University Press, 2009).

In the media

I was a contributor to the Parkmasters series on urban public parks, first broadcast on BBC Radio 4, January 29 - February 2, 2007. Presented by Tristram Hunt, the series examined five major Victorian landscape gardeners and five urban parks associated with them in Derby, Liverpool (Birkenhead), London, Macclesfield and Lincoln.

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