Dr Joshua Nall
History and Philosophy of Science
Lecturers, Professors and College Officers,
I am a Teaching Fellow at Churchill specialising in history of science. My research focuses on the physical sciences between the 18th and 20th centuries, with a particular interest in material culture and the role of scientific instruments. I teach in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, where I also serve as Director of its museum, the Whipple Museum of the History of Science.
My first book, News from Mars: Mass Media and the Forging of a New Astronomy, 1860-1910, was published by University of Pittsburgh Press in September 2019. It analyses the varied and often close relationships forged between astronomers and new forms of mass media at the turn of the 20th century. Its focus is the era’s most public astronomical debate, over whether or not there was evidence of life on Mars. In October 2020 the book was awarded the Philip J. Pauly Prize by the History of Science Society.
With Cambridge colleagues Liba Taub and Frances Willmoth, I edited the Whipple Museum’s second volume of scholarly research based on the Museum’s collection, published to mark its 75th anniversary in November 2019. I also worked with Boris Jardine to edit the 2022 primary source volume, Victorian Material Culture: Science and Medicine, published by Routledge.
At the Whipple Museum I have curated a variety of exhibitions and displays, including on globes, science and industry in Cambridge, and the history of brewing. In 2017 I curated Astronomy and Empire, an exhibition that critically addressed the practices and uses of the astronomical and navigational sciences in the British Empire from the 1750s to the 1950s. My most recent exhibition, curated with Liba Taub and Boris Jardine, is Craftswomen: Uncovering Hidden Labour in the History of Science, which explores the work of women in the British instrument trade between the 17th and 19th centuries. It was awarded the British Society for the History of Science’s 2023 Exhibiting Excellence Prize (Small Exhibitions Category).