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Professor Robert Mayhew

Research Profile

My main areas of research interest to date have been twofold. First, deriving from my doctoral work in Oxford, I am interested in the ways in which landscape was represented in English literature. I have sought to show in a number of articles the extent to which landscape was a theological category in eighteenth century thought. This work has led me to write about a range of canonical authors in the “long” eighteenth century including Addison, Pope, Fielding, Gilpin and Radcliffe.My main focus, however, has been on the work of Samuel Johnson, and this has resulted in a monograph with Palgrave, Landscape, Literature and English Religious Culture, 1660-1800 (2004).

Second, my interest in the eighteenth century led me to a concern with the history of geography in early modern England. This was the main project I pursued during my time in Cambridge and has been my main area of research ever since. I have concentrated on seventeenth and eighteenth century British geographical writings for the most part, with some excursions into the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries, this range being fully exemplified in a monograph on the topic, Enlightenment Geography (2000).

At present I am writing a book, provisionally entitled Untimely Prophet, about the intellectual history of Thomas Robert Malthus and the reception of Malthusianism from 1798 to the present day for Harvard University Press. Malthus is key to the emergence of recognisably "modern" debates about the nexus between resources, population and economic decision making, and to recover his thought and the debates which have surrounded it is vital if we want to make historically-informed choices in the present day. The British Academy have geneously awarded me a Senior Research Fellowship for the academic year 2011-12 to pursue the completion of this book.

Research keywords

  • Historical Geography History of Geography Landscape studies Environmental History