Dr Melanie Keene

College position:

Postgraduate Tutor, Director of Studies for History and Philosophy of Science, College Assistant Professor

Melanie Keene 4.jpg
Melanie Keene 4.jpg

Dr Keene is currently working on research projects about child gardeners in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries; science in juvenile periodicals; and elementary medical education and children’s bodies. She is affiliated with the Department of History and Philosophy of Science and supervises for Part IB of the Natural Sciences Tripos on the history of science, for the History Tripos, and for the Education Tripos.

From 2009-2014 she 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.

Research Interests

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

Links to online publications, articles or other work

Selected Publications:

‘Noah’s Ark-aeology and nineteenth-century children’, in Rachel Bryant Davies and Barbara Gribling (eds) Pasts at Play: childhood encounters with history in British culture, 1750–1914 (Manchester University Press, 2020).

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).

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

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:

Sarah Anne Carter, Object lessons: how nineteenth-century Americans learned to make sense of the material world, History of Education 50 (2020), 288-290.

Angela G. Ray & Paul Stob (eds), Thinking together: lecturing, learning, & difference in the long nineteenth century, Isis III (2020), 178-179.

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).

Selected Recent Talks:

'Hours with the flowers: the temporalities of juvenile gardening in nineteenth-century Britain', 'Childhood and Time' IX Conference on Childhood Studies, Tampere University, May 2021.

‘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.