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Jesse Oak Taylor

Assistant Professor
PDL A-405
543-2298 (voice mail)


B.A., English, Middlebury College,
M.A. & Ph.D., English, University of Wisconsin-Madison,
(Ph.D. Minor:, Anthropology and Languages and Cultures of Asia),

Fellowships and Awards

Bruce Harkness Award, Joseph Conrad Society of America (2012). American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) New Faculty Fellowship (2011-2013).

Research and teaching interests

Victorian literature and culture; environmentalism and ecological theory; global health; modernism; posthumanism; empire and imperialism; history of science medicine, and technology; actor network theory; emergence.

My research focuses on industrialization and empire in the nineteenth century and their relevance for understanding the ongoing processes (and social and ecological consequences) of industrialization and development around the globe. Thus, I balance my research on Victorian Britain and the British Empire with work on contemporary ecological theory, international development, and global health. Similarly, I teach courses on the Victorian era, literature and the environment, and posthumanism.

Work in Progress

I am currently completing a book, The Sky of Our Manufacture: Climate, Pollution, and the London Fog, which traces the conceptual emergence of climate change the soot-laden London fog (i.e., "smog") of London in the late-19th and early 20th centuries. The project runs from the Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace in 1851 to the "Great Smog Disaster" of 1952. It argues that aesthetics, especially the novel, re-frame our perception in order to come to terms with an environment in which everything, including the weather, bears the imprint of human action. In the process, the book examines the relationship between "atmosphere" in its literal and literary senses, and "climate" as both a meteorological and historical phenomenon.

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