Professor Robert J Mayhew

B.A., D.Phil.(Oxon.), Ph.D.(Cantab.)

  • BS8 1SS

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Personal profile

Research interests

My main areas of research interest to date have been threefold. First, deriving from my doctoral work in Oxford, I am interested in the ways in which landscape was represented in English literature. I have sought to show in a number of articles the extent to which landscape was a theological category in eighteenth century thought. This work has led me to write about a range of canonical authors in the “long” eighteenth century including Addison, Pope, Fielding, Gilpin and Radcliffe.My main focus, however, has been on the work of Samuel Johnson, and this has resulted in a monograph with Palgrave, Landscape, Literature and English Religious Culture, 1660-1800 (2004).

Second, my interest in the eighteenth century led me to a concern with the history of geography in early modern England. This was the main project I pursued during my time in Cambridge and has been my main area of research ever since. I have concentrated on seventeenth and eighteenth century British geographical writings for the most part, with some excursions into the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries, this range being fully exemplified in a monograph on the topic, Enlightenment Geography (2000).

Third, I have written about the intellectual history of Thomas Robert Malthus and the reception of Malthusianism from 1798 to the present day for Harvard University Press (2014). I have also edited Malthus's works for Penguin Classics (2015) and edited a collection of essays to mark the 250th anniverary of his birth for Cambridge University Press (2016). 

Current research interests are many, but the two main projects are: (I) an intellectual history of British attitudes to migration from 1793 to the present day. This is being developed thanks to the generous award of a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship (2020-23); and (II) work on the life and ideas of Robert Wallace, who is often pigeonholed as a "precursor" to Malthus or someone whom Malthus "plagiarised". He is in fact a major and comparatively neglected thinker of the Scottish Enlightenment. This work has been generously supported by the British Academy and the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. 

Structured keywords and research groupings

  • International Development


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