Melanie Keene

Fellow, Graduate Tutor, Director of Studies for History and Philosophy of Science
Contact number: 
(+44)1223 747302
Contact email address:
Year Joined Homerton: 
Research Interests: 

History of science; history of education; history of childhood; science for children; science and literature; material culture; science and music.

I am currently working on research projects about science in juvenile periodicals; elementary medical education and children’s bodies; Noah’s Ark and Victorian childhood; and child gardeners in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

Teaching And Professional Interests: 

I am affiliated with the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, and the Centre for Research in Children’s Literature at Cambridge. I supervise for Part IB of the Natural Sciences Tripos on the history of science, and lecture and supervise for Part II of the Education Tripos on history of education topics. I supervise students on the MPhil in Critical Approaches to Children’s Literature.

I am currently a member of the editorial board of the journal Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures. From 2009-2014 I was the editor of Viewpoint, the magazine of the British Society for the History of Science, and from 2006-2015 part of their Outreach and Education Committee.


Selected Publications: 

Science in Wonderland: the scientific fairy tales of Victorian Britain (Oxford University Press, 2015).

‘Dinosaurs Don’t Die: the Crystal Palace monsters in children’s literature, 1854-2001’, in Kate Nichols and Sarah Victoria Turner (eds) After 1851: the material and visual cultures of the Crystal Palace at Sydenham (Manchester University Press, 2017), 159-178.

Familiar science in nineteenth-century Britain’, History of Science 52 (2014), 53-71.

‘An active nature: Robert Hunt and the genres of science-writing’, in Ben Marsden, Hazel Hutchison, Ralph O'Connor (eds) Uncommon Contexts: encounters between science and literature, 1800-1914 (Pickering and Chatto, 2013), 39-53.

From candles to cabinets: “familiar chemistry” in early Victorian Britain’, Ambix 60 (2013), 54-77.

Playing among the stars: Science in Sport, or the Pleasures of Astronomy (1804)’, History of Education: Sources and Interpretations 40 (2011), 521-542.

‘“Every Boy & Girl a Scientist”: Instruments for Children in Interwar Britain’, Isis 98 (2007), 266-289.

Selected Journalism & Media:

‘Imagination in Science’ podcast, the Forum for Philosophy, London School of Economics, 2018.

Contributor to ‘Dinosaur Poop Part 2: the Coprolite Queen’, Tumble children’s science podcast, 2018.

Contributor to ‘Science Stories’, BBC Radio Four, 2017.

Contributor to ‘Dinosaurs’, part of BBC Radio Four series on Natural Histories, 2015.

Contributor to ‘I is for Iggy the Iguanodon’, part of University of Cambridge Animal Alphabet, 2015.

‘Cinderella Science’, and ‘Alice down the microscope’, Oxford University Press blog, 2015.

‘Fairylands of science’, Nature (19th December 2013), 374-5.

‘Once upon a time...’, New Scientist (25th December 2010-1st January 2011), 40-42.

Selected Book Reviews:

Donald L. Opitz, Staffan Bergwik and Brigitte Van Tiggelen, (eds.), Domesticity in the Making of Modern Science, British Journal for the History of Science 50 (2017), 548-549.

Sally Gregory Kohlstedt, Teaching Children Science: Hands-On Nature Study in North America, 1890-1920, Metascience 21 (2012), 497-499.

Sally Shuttleworth, The Mind of the Child: Child Development in Literature, Science and Medicine, 1840-1900, BSLS book reviews website (January 2011).

Peter Bowler, Science for All: Popular Science in Early Twentieth-Century Britain, Centaurus 42 (2010), 355-356.

Selected Recent Talks:

‘Tummy troubles: discussing disgusting digestion with nineteenth-century children’, annual conference of the British Society for Literature and Science, Royal Holloway, April 2019.

‘Noah’s ark-æology and nineteenth-century children’, ‘Children’s Literature and Science’ workshop, Edinburgh Napier, February 2019.

‘“How I Made a Noah’s Ark”: juvenile periodicals and homemade toys in Victorian Britain’, 25th Annual IBBY/NCRCL conference, Roehampton, November 2018.

‘CARE: from periphery to centre’, art/archive installation, workshop, and symposium, Cambridge Festival of Ideas, October 2018.

‘Mary Anning and the history of palaeontology for children’, Popularising Palaeontology workshop, King’s College London, December 2017.

‘Bees and parodies’, ‘A Bug’s Life: Creeping and Crawling through Children’s Literature’ conference, Cambridge, November 2017.