Bio

I’m an Associate Professor of History at George Mason University and the Director of the Research Division at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media (RRCHNM). My research focuses on early modern France and its colonies, the Enlightenment, and the digital humanities. At the RRCHNM, I conceive and direct digital projects relating to historians’ research practices. Most notable among these are Zotero, the popular research software, and PressForward, the innovative open access publishing platform. I also work on digital projects beyond my home institution, such as The Encyclopedia of Diderot and d’Alembert Collaborative Translation Project, which I co-direct with two other French historians.

I’ve published The Expert Cook in Enlightenment France (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011), which details the professional, scientific, and medical aspirations of domestic servant cooks. I’m currently writing a second book on early tropical medicine, where I explore the bizarre world of colonial medical practitioners and their efforts to bend climate, diet, and moral behavior to the needs of the European body in the tropics.

After receiving my bachelor’s degree from Yale with majors in economics and history, I spent three years working as a systems engineer at IBM developing web application prototypes and helping to sell big iron. I earned my doctorate in history from the University of Michigan and have conducted archival research on four continents, which I only just realized while typing this sentence. I’ve received research fellowships and funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the National Science Foundation, the Fulbright Program, the Social Science Research Council, and the Agence Nationale de la Recherche.

The blog’s title comes from an eighteenth-century cookbook’s absurd description of a French cook and his extravagant creations: “The story of his assiette of popes-eyes, the quintessence of ham for sauce, and the gravy of twenty-two partridges for sauce for a brace, was always beyond the credit of any sensible person.” –William Verral, A Complete System of Cookery (1759)