Katharine Hamerton, PhD, is Associate Professor of History in the Department of Humanities, History, and Social Sciences at Columbia College Chicago. Before joining Columbia in 2005, she taught for two years as an Assistant Professor of History at Missouri State University (then Southwest Missouri State). She teaches the history of the French Revolution; Honors classes on the Enlightenment and on “Taste and Consumption in French History,” which won the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies Innovative Course Design Competition Award; Medieval Europe; and "Chicago: A Global Metropolis." She is interested in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century French intellectual and cultural history, the history of taste and consumption, food history, and the history of the emotions. The book she is writing, “Resisting Providence: Malebranche, Pleasure, and the French Enlightenment,” is the story of how the philosopher Nicolas Malebranche set out to convince a polite, worldly French audience from the 1670s into the 1710s that the new aesthetic faculty they were obsessed with – taste, and so-called good taste – were false notions, products of their bodies and embodied minds. It weaves together an analysis of Malebranche’s admiring understanding of human neurology, emotions, tastes and physiology as providentially designed and adaptive for human physical and social life, with an investigation of his skepticism and moral concerns about the effects of believing these misleading embodied messages, all against the backdrop of the emerging Enlightenment and eighteenth-century consumer revolution. Her publications include “Fashion on the Brain: The Visible and Invisible Bonds of the Imagination in Malebranche,” forthcoming in August 2022 in French Historical Studies; “Motions in the Body, Sensations in the Mind: Malebranche’s Mechanics of Sensory Perception and Taste,” Arts et Savoirs 11 (2019); http://journals.openedition.org/aes/1889; "A Feminist Voice in the Enlightenment Salon: Madame de Lambert on Taste, Sensibility, and the Feminine Mind," Modern Intellectual History 7, no. 2 (August 2010) http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1479244310000041; “Rousseau and the New Domestic Art of Women’s Taste,” Proceedings of the Western Society for French History, vol. 37, 2009; and “Malebranche, Taste and Sensibility: The Origins of Sensitive Taste and a Reconsideration of Cartesianism’s Feminist Potential,” The Journal of the History of Ideas 69, no. 4 (October 2008) http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/jhi.0.0017. One of Dr. Hamerton’s planned future projects is an annotated translation of selected writings of the early Enlightenment salonnière, the marquise de Lambert. Dr. Hamerton received her BA (Honors) degree in History and English Literature from the University of Manitoba, and her MA and PhD degrees in History from the University of Chicago.
French and European History; the French Revolution; the Enlightenment; the history of taste and consumption in France; intellectual and cultural history; history of the emotions; food history; history of gardens
Creative Practice and Research Interests
Intellectual, social and cultural history of taste and consumption in early modern France; Malebranche, taste, Providence, and the Enlightenment; History of the mind and the emotions in Old Regime France; the Enlightenment
B.A. HONS., English and History University of Manitoba 1989
M.A., History: Social Sciences University of Chicago 1991
Ph.D., History: Social Sciences University of Chicago 2002