Dr Richard Noakes

Research supervision

The history of science is one of the major growth areas of historical research and teaching. Drawing on the insights of anthropological, geographical, literary, philosophical and sociological studies of science, it is a highly interdisciplinary and exciting branch of history which has changed considerably since the post-war period when it focussed almost exclusively on the progress of ideas about nature and cosmos. As an enterprise that now explores the material, political, social, cultural, technical, and other resources that are necessary for making scientific knowledge and scientific authority, scholars from the full range of humanities and social science disciplines have much to bring to the history of science.

The University of Exeter is a particularly good environment for doing exciting new work in the history of science. The Streatham campus has no fewer than three world-class research centres closely allied to the discipline - the Centre for Medical History, Centre for the Study of Esotericism, and the ESCR Centre for Genomics in Society – and the Cornwall campus boasts precisely the interdisciplinary environment in which the subject flourishes. There are major research resources on or near the campuses, including those at Exeter University's Special Collections, the Cornwall Record Office, and the Submarine Telegraph Museum at Porthcurno, while the major archives and libraries of London and other UK institution are accessible by reliable train routes.

I have supervised undergraduate and postgraduate students on a range of research topics connected with science and technology, and I am especially keen to supervise students in the following broad areas:

  • History of science and technology since 1700
  • History of the physical sciences since the early modern period
  • History of the occult and Western Esotericism since 1800
  • The engagement of sciences and religions
  • Industrial and military contexts of scientific innovation
  • Science and the media since 1800
  • Late-Victorian magic and early cinema

Research students

Orlando Fernandez, 'Esoteric Quantization: The Esoteric Imagination in David Bohm's Interpretatons of Quantum Mechanics' (with Andrew Pickering), 2008-

Jeffrey Lavoie, PhD candidate, 'Saving Time: Cosmology, Soteriology, and the Implications of Temporality in Modern Theosophy' (with Hereward Tilton), 2010-

Lori Oates, PhD candidate, 'The Transmission of Occult Philosophies Between France and Britain, 1850-1900' (with Joseph Crawford), 2012-

Ryan Patterson, 'The “Handmaid of the Sciences”: Technophilia in Victorian Britain and the Machine Gun in Imperial Culture' (with Jeremy Black), 2011-

Malcolm Peet, PhD candidate, 'Garth Wilkinson and the Uses of Swedenborg' (with Clare Goodrick-Clarke), 2010-2013 (withdrawn)

Tim Rudboeg, PhD candidate, 'H. P. Blavatsky's Theosophy in Context: The Construction of Meaning in Modern Western Esotericism' (with Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke), 2008-2013

Ryan Sweet, PhD candidate, 'A Cultural and Literary History of Prosthesis in the Victorian Period' (with Jason Hall), 2012-