About our staff
Dr Sarah Goldsmith
Temporary Lecturer in Urban and Material Culture History; Eighteenth-Century History; Gender History, The History of the Body, Travel History
I studied undergraduate and masters History at the University of Nottingham, before spending two years working in the museum industry. My AHRC-funded PhD (2011-2015) on the Grand Tour, danger and masculinity was supervised by Dr Catriona Kennedy at the University of York. I then held a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow at the University of Leicester, before becoming a Lecturer in Early Modern and Eighteenth-Century British Urban History. I joined the University of Edinburgh in 2020, as a Temporary Lecturer in Urban and Material Culture History.
I have been fortunate enough to receive fellowships with the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellent for the History of Emotions, the UCLA’s William Clark Library and Yale’s Centre for British Art. In 2018, I became an AHRC/BBC New Generation Thinker, and continue to work with organisations like BBC Radio 3 and the V&A.
Summary of research interestsPlaces:
- Britain & Ireland
- Material Culture
- Early Modern
- Eighteenth Century
- Nineteenth Century
I am a cultural historian of the long eighteenth century, with an interest in the histories of masculinity, gender, travel, the body, emotion, and education. and elite culture and formation. I am particularly interested in archival based research and what this tells us about an individual or family’s relationship to the wider cultures and trends of a period.
My early research examined the culture and practice of early modern and eighteenth-century travel to Europe, with a particular focus on revising our understanding of the eighteenth-century Grand Tour and its central role in the formation of elite masculine identities. My work has examined the importance of non-Italian destinations, the Grand Tour’s social and emotional formation, and highlighted it’s complex and varied engagement with the different hazards encountered during eighteenth-century travel. This forms the focus of my first monograph, Masculinity and Danger on the Eighteenth-Century Grand Tour.
My current research, begun during my Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellowship, explores the history of the male body. Using an interdisciplinary approach and detailed case studies of richly documented families, this research responds to recent claims by gender historians that the history of masculinity is too ‘disembodied’. Within this, I am interested in unpicking the body’s importance to understandings and experiences of eighteenth-and nineteenth-century masculinity: What did men and others think about their bodies? How did they experience them? What sorts of physical routines and practices did they keep? What was the ‘ideal’ male body in these periods, and who had a say in establishing this ideal? What did men think about their bodies in relation to these ideals, and did they seek to alter their bodies in any way because of this?
I am also interested in bridging the gap between cultural and written representations of historical bodies, and those bodies’ physical, corporeal qualities. This offers an interesting challenge – historical bodies are long gone, and often all we have left are representations. Using sources such as tailor’s measuring books, weighing diaries and material objects, such as clothing, I and colleagues across several disciplines and industries are exploring ways of reconstructing past bodies.
Knowledge Exchange and Impact
As an BBC/AHRC New Generation Thinker, I work with the media - particularly BBC Radio 3 - to adapt my research for public broadcast. I am also acting as a historical advisor for the V&A's forthcoming exhibition, Fashioning Masculinities (2022).
I am the course convenor for:
The History of Edinburgh: From Din Eidyn to Festival City
London Life in the Eighteenth Century: Society and Culture
Heritage in Britain since c.1750
I am the course convenor for:
The Material Culture of Gender in Eighteenth-Century Britain (NOTE: not running in 2020-21)