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Edward Gillin

Edward Gillin

Research Fellow


Edward is a cultural historian who specializes in British science, technology, architecture, and politics in the nineteenth century.  In 2015 Edward collected a DPhil from the University of Oxford.  Working under the supervision of Professor William Whyte, he completed a thesis examining the uses of scientific knowledge in the building of Charles Barry’s new Houses of Parliament at Westminster between 1834 and 1860.  This project united histories of science and architecture with broader political history.  He has published works on the Cunard Steamship Company, nineteenth-century evangelicalism, Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s Great Eastern steamship, Augustus Pugin, and the links between Victorian geology and architecture.  Additionally he has recently completed several biographies for Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and a textbook for Pearson Publishing on political protest between 1780 and 1928, including studies of the Contagious Diseases Acts, the campaign for women’s suffrage, and the 1926 General Strike.  During the summer of 2016 he worked as research assistant to the ESRC funded “The Professions in Nineteenth-Century Britain” project.

In collaboration with Horatio Joyce, Edward organised the 2016 conference, “Architecture and Experience in the Nineteenth Century” at St John’s College, Oxford.  He has taught at the Universities of Oxford and Kent, and in 2016 convened a course on British history for Emory University.  He is also a tutor for the University of Oxford’s Department for Continuing Education and in 2014 became an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

For his work on architecture and geology in the mid-nineteenth century he received the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain’s (SAHGB) Hawksmoor Medal and for his article on sermons and the Great Eastern Steamship he was awarded the 2016 Usher Prize from the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT).  He also received the 2013 Jane Willis Kirkaldy Senior Prize for the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology from the University of Oxford for an essay on the marine architect John Scott Russell.

Between 2016 and 2019 Edward will be working on the ERC project “Sound and Materialism in the Nineteenth Century”.  He is examining the intersections between music and science with particular emphasis on how materialistic conceptions of how sound worked shaped new approaches to music.  He has a keen interest in both the efforts to understand sound and the attempts to mechanically replicate it.  It is a central part of his research to examine not only the ways in which science influenced music, but to analyse how music was itself at the very centre of scientific culture during the mid-nineteenth century.

Key Publications


‘Science on the Niger: powers of civilization and ventilation during the 1841 Niger Expedition’, Social History of Medicine, (currently under revision).

‘The Stones of Science: Charles Harriot Smith and the importance of geology in architecture, 1834-1864’, Architectural History, (Autumn, 2016).  Awarded the SAHGB’s 2015 Hawksmoor Medal.

‘Prophets of Progress: authority in the scientific projections and religious realizations of the “Great Eastern” steamship’, Technology and Culture, Vol. 56, No. 4, (October, 2015), pp. 928-956.  Awarded the 2016 Usher Prize.

‘Gothic Fantastic: Parliament, Pugin, and the architecture of science’, True Principles, Vol. 4, No. 5, (Winter, 2015), pp. 382-389.

‘“Diligent in business, serving the Lord”: John Burns, Evangelicalism, and Cunard’s Culture of Speed, 1878-1901’, Journal for Maritime Research, 14:1 (May, 2012), pp. 15-30.



(Textbook co-authored with Peter Callaghan), Protest, agitation and parliamentary reform in Britain, c.1780-1928, (Pearson: London, 2016).



‘Thomas William Baxter Aveling (1815-84)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2017).

‘David Boswell Reid (1805-63)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (April, 2016).



‘Book Review: “Engines of Empire: steamships and the Victorian Imagination”’, Journal of Transport History, (2016)

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