Photo of Simeon Koole

Dr Simeon Koole

BA (Oxon.), MPhil (Cantab.), DPhil (Oxon.)

  • BS8 1TB


Research output per year

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Personal profile

Research interests

I specialise in the cultural history of modern Britain and its global entanglements, with a particular interest in the histories of sexuality and the senses. My research draws on queer theory, the history of science, and urban history to explore two related questions: how new ways of sensing and thinking about ‘sense’ emerged from the late nineteenth century; and how these new sensory practices reshaped social relationships and the cultural norms and concepts derived from them in multiple areas of life.

My first book, Nervous Hands, Stolen Kisses, and the Press of Everyday Life: Touch in Britain, 1870-1960 (under contract with University of Chicago Press), examines how the understanding, experience, and practice of touch changed in modern Britain. It argues that touch is central to how we act and think about ourselves, others, and our environment and that changes in how touch was practised significantly reconfigured understandings of selfhood, appropriate social interaction, and conceptions of the mind and body. The book deconstructs touch as a unified category of experience, tracing its multiple, connected histories across different domains of knowledge, including the mind sciences, education, law, and consumer culture. At the same time, it shows how touch played a causative role in the formation of organizing concepts such as desire, objectivity, impairment, and personal boundaries and can therefore serve as a means to intervene in contemporary cross-disciplinary debates mobilizing these concepts.

My current research refocuses attention on the relationship between sensation, belonging, and scalar thinking over the nineteenth and early twentieth century. My next book project, Within Worlds: Longing and Belonging in the Docklands of London and Hong Kong, explores the historically specific relationship between sensing and ‘dwelling’ at local, national, and global scales. Beginning with the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, the project examines how the global histories of trade, migration, and imperial expansion developed in and through the microhistories of sensory encounters within the London and Hong Kong docklands. The project at the same time examines how through such sensory encounters the diverse constituencies of both docklands constructed multiple ‘worlds’ to inhabit which at once tied them to neighbourhoods and spanned oceans. In this way, the project provides an intimate history of two neighbourhoods which explores the sensory dimensions of belonging and shifting scales of being-in-the-world.

In other publications, I have explored how queer desire served as a way of thinking in—and way of rethinking—the history of science, and how photography might be understood as an interpretive event within contested imperial contexts.

Before joining Bristol as a lecturer, I previously held a visiting fellowship at Princeton University (2013-2014).

Research Supervision

I am interested in supervising postgraduates on any topic relating to my research interests. This includes the cultural history of modern Britain as well as the histories of the senses, science, sexuality, photography, and urban culture in modern Europe and its imperial involvements from 1870.


I currently convene the following courses:

Brief Encounters: Love, Labour, and Loneliness in Modern London (second-year History unit)

History of the Present (first-year core Liberal Arts unit)

Dissertation (third- and fourth-year core Liberal Arts unit)

I also currently contribute lectures and seminars to the following courses:

Urban Worlds: From Ancient Baghdad to Las Vegas (first-year History unit)

Rethinking History (second-year History unit)

Progress or Peril? The History of Science, Technology, and Medicine (second-year History unit)

Dissertation (third-year History unit)

Contact Details


Phone: 0117 928 7623

Office: 1.38, 13 Woodland Road

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Research Output

  • 4 Article (Academic Journal)
  • 4 Book/Film/Article review (Academic Journal)
  • 1 Authored book

Retrospect: Modern British Cultural History

Koole, S., 2021, (In preparation) In : Historical Journal.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

The Cunning of Desire: Queer Thinking in the History of Science

Koole, S., 2020, (In preparation) In : Past and Present.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)


Caird Research Fellowship

Koole, Simeon (Recipient), 2019

Prize: Prizes, Medals, Awards and Grants

International Strategic Fund

Koole, Simeon (Recipient), 2019

Prize: Prizes, Medals, Awards and Grants

  • Activities

    • 2 Visiting an external academic institution
    • 1 Participation in workshop, seminar, course

    Remarque Institute, New York University

    Simeon Koole (Visiting researcher)

    1 Sep 20201 Dec 2020

    Activity: Visiting an external institution typesVisiting an external academic institution

    Johns Hopkins University

    Simeon Koole (Visiting researcher)

    2 Nov 201917 Nov 2019

    Activity: Visiting an external institution typesVisiting an external academic institution

    Conceptualising the City in the Arts and Humanities

    Florian Scheding (Invited speaker), , Simeon Koole (Organiser), , Erika Hanna (Organiser), , Ruth Glynn (Organiser), & Lena Zuchowski (Organiser)

    7 Jun 2018

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in workshop, seminar, course