Sean Takats is Director of Research at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, and Associate Professor of History at George Mason University. His research focuses on early modern France, the Enlightenment, and the digital humanities. He has received fellowships and research grants from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Institute for Museum and Library Services, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Social Science Research Council.
History of medicine; digital research methods eighteenth-century France and its colonies; the Enlightenment
Tropical Medicine as Enlightenment Colonialism: Digital Research and Collaboration
This project examines the colonial doctors of the Ancien Régime to understand their role in establishing a European presence in the tropics. These doctors enrich our understanding of the Enlightenment as a global, and fundamentally medical, phenomenon. Studying the medicine and medical practitioners of the early French colonies, however, poses unique challenges. These doctors have left us no centralized archive, and they have figured into few historical narratives. To address these shortcomings, I apply a range of digital methods to capture the full scope of the activities of early colonial doctors, including topic modeling, data mining, and mapping. The first aim of this project is to restore colonial medical practitioners to the narrative of Enlightenment medical history. The second aim is to produce a case study for the use of new digital research methods in historical scholarship.
The Expert Cook in Enlightenment France, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011.
“Le design, ça compte (Design Matters)”, in Gilles Rouffineau (dir.), Transmettre l’histoire. Contribution du design à la production des savoirs, Coéditions B42 - ESAD Valence-Grenoble, 2013.
“A Perfect Body of Knowledge: Taste and Digestion in Eighteenth-Century France”, in Sabine Arnaud, Helge Jordheim, Le Corps et ses images dans l’Europe du dix-huitième siècle, Honoré Champion, 2012.