Nicholas  Popper

Office: Blair 349
Email: [[nspopper]]
Regional Areas of Research: Atlantic World, Medieval and Early Modern Europe
Thematic Areas of Research: British Empire, Comparative and Transnational, Cultural/Intellectual, Imperialism and Colonialism, Historiography and Historical Memory, Science and Medicine


Nicholas Popper received his PhD from Princeton University in 2007 and was a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the California Institute of Technology in 2008-9.  Since 2014, he has been Christopher Wren Association Fellow in William & May’s Center for the Liberal Arts.

He specializes in early modern British history with a particular focus on intersections between intellectual and political culture and on the transmission of scholarly practices from continental Europe to Britain.  His research interests also include early modern history of science, history of the book, and travel and geographical learning.  These interests come together in his book, entitled Walter Ralegh's History of the World and the Historical Culture of the Late Renaissance, which was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2012 and came out in paperback in 2014 (  The book examines how practices of studying the past transformed the political and intellectual cultures of early modern Europe.

His articles include “An Ocean of Lies: The Problem of Historical Evidence in the Sixteenth Century,” Huntington Library Quarterly 74.3 (2011): 375-400; “From Abbey to Archive: Managing Texts and Records in Early Modern England,” Archival Science 10.3 (2010): 249-266, "‘Abraham, Planter of Mathematics': Histories of Mathematics and Astrology in Early Modern Europe," Journal of the History of Ideas 67.1 (2006): 87-106; and "The English Polydaedali: How Gabriel Harvey Read Late Tudor London," Journal of the History of Ideas 66.3 (2005): 351-381.

Upcoming articles and book chapters address the analysis of ancient Roman warfare in early modern England; the perception of travel observation as political experience amongst aspiring Elizabethan counselors; the place of historical study in the first efforts of the British to establish settlements in North American; the significance of continental historical works to Elizabethan political culture; the willingness of humanist historians to use sources they knew to have been forged, and the late 17th century dismantling of the view that natural history should be an exercise in collecting.  He is also working with Anthony Grafton, Lisa Jardine, and William Sherman to complete a collection of essays about the Elizabethan scholar Gabriel Harvey. 

He teaches classes on European and British history, on early modern European intellectual history, and on the history of science.

He is currently organizing with Ann Blair, Daniela Bleichmar, and Liza McCahill, a symposium in honor of the 65th birthday of Anthony Grafton at Princeton University, May 8-9, 2015.  The conference webpage is at