University of Pittsburgh

Graduate Program

Katherine Parker

University of Pittsburgh
Department of History
3702 Posvar Hall
Pittsburgh, PA 15260



About Me:

I came to Pitt after earning Honors BAs in History and International Studies at Oregon State University. My undergraduate thesis looked at the role of race in the transmission of information across space from Enlightenment voyages of discovery, specifically the 1730s La Condamine expedition to Peru.

At Pitt I have shifted my focus from race to space, specifically the creation of geographic knowledge about the Pacific in the long eighteenth century. Although focused primarily on Britain, my dissertation focuses on the trans-imperial competitive collaboration that created the Pacific on the printed page prior to Captain Cook's first voyage in 1768. Utilizing the methodologies of the history of the book and cartography, I plot a historical-material geography of the Pacific within British culture via the production and reception oftravel accounts, maps, and globes.

For the past two years, I have carried out research in Britain, Spain, and France thanks to a Social Sciences Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship and an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship. In 2015-6, I will be returning to Pittsburgh to finish my studies and to serve as a research assistant.


Early Modern European Intellectual and CulturalHistory
British Empire
Gender, Ethnicity, Race and Religion
Early Modern Exploration, specifically Pacific voyages of discovery
Book History/Reading


PhD Research Topic:

"Contentious Waters: the creation of Pacific geographic knowledge in Britain, 1669-1768"

Advisor: Seymour Drescher

I ask what are the social relations that underlie knowledge creation? I hope to trace this dynamic, reciprocal, and complex process by focusing on the Pacific, terra incognita to Europeans at that time.  Most scholarship on Pacific exploration has concentrated on the power negotiations in island/ship encounters. I wish to look beyond the cross-cultural encounter to explain in greater depth the global and local processes that were critical to the production of knowledge about space. Little work has been done on how information about the Pacific as a geographic entity, expanding the known surface of the earth by a third, was brought to material form and presented to consumers. By concentrating on the production and reception of material objects themselves—maps, globes, travel accounts, and geography texts—I seek to plot a historical geography of the Pacific within Europe, particularly Britain.

Teaching Experience:

Stand-alone instructor, Western Civilization II (summer semester 2014)

TA, Western Civilization I (fall semester 2011) and II (spring semester 2013, guest lecturer on the Enlightenment)

TA, History of the United States to 1877 (fall semester 2012)

TA, History of the United States from 1877 (spring semester 2012)

Fellowships & Awards:

Hakluyt Society Essay Prize Contest, Honorable Mention(May, 2015)

John R. Bockstoce Fellow for Pacific Ocean Studies, John Carter Brown Library(May-June, 2015)

Charles J. Tenenbaum Fellowship in Cartographic Bibliography, Bibliographical Society of America (January, 2015)

Travel research grant, Society of Nautical Research (November, 2014)

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Pre-Dissertation Fellowship (2014-2015)

World History Center Graduate Research Award, University of Pittsburgh (April 2013)

Social Sciences Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, University of Pittsburgh (2013-2014)

Arts and Sciences Fellowship, University of Pittsburgh (2010-2011)

Conference Presentations:

“Circling the world in print: the production and reception of British geographic knowledge about the Pacific in the mid-eighteenth century,” presented on a panel organized by the Community Libraries Network, XIV International Congress for Eighteenth-Century Studies, Rotterdam, Netherlands(July 31, 2015)

“Contentious Waters: The mapping of the North Pacific in trans-imperial context,” John Carter Brown Library, Providence, Rhode Island, USA (June 24, 2015)

“A Tricky Passage: Mapping, Navigating, and Publishing Tierra del Fuego in the early modern period,” Maps & Society Lecture Series, Warburg Institute, London UK (March 12, 2015)

“Learning to Lead: the Admiralty and Pacific exploration in the long-eighteenth century,” Institute of Historical Research (IHR)/National Maritime Museum joint Seminar on British Maritime History, IHR, London, UK (February 10, 2015)

“Circling a paper world: the global process of producing Pacific travel accounts in the long 18th century,” The Global History of the Book (1780 to the present) Workshop, University of Oxford, Centre for Global History, Oxford, UK (December 4-5, 2014)

“Geopolitics, trade, discovery: Pacific exploration in the long eighteenth century in trans-imperial context,” The Politics of Colonial Comparison Workshop, All Souls College, Oxford, UK(September 29, 2014)

“Pocketing the world: Globes as commodities in the long-18th century and their impact on shaping geographic knowledge of the Pacific,” Forms and Formats: Experimenting with Print, 1695-1815 Conference, Bodleian Libraries, Oxford, UK (September 8-9, 2014)

“Mobile knowledge: redefining the library in the eighteenth-century Atlantic/Pacific world,” Community Libraries: Connecting Readers in the Atlantic World, c.1650-c.1850 Colloquium, University of Liverpool, UK(January 24-25, 2014)

“The South Sea Paradox: sailor-authors and credibility in the mid-eighteenth century,” British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies annual conference, St. Hugh’s College, Oxford, UK(January 8-10, 2014)

“Natural philosophers, sailors, and authors: The Royal Society of London and the rise of the expert in travel accounts, 1740-1770,” Learned Societies and Academies, Travel and Travellers, Exploration and Explorers Conference, 1600-1900, Université Blaise Pascal, Clermont-Ferrand, France(November 15-17, 2013)

“Digitizing networks of knowledge: the promise of GIS for Exploration and Book History,” Moving: Pathways, Transport, and Place Workshop, University College London, London, UK(November 14, 2013)

“Memorializing the Fighting Explorer: A case study in naval heroism and material culture,” Navy and Nation Conference, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London (July 26, 2013)


“Printing the Pacific: the production and use of cartographic representations of the South Seas in the eighteenth century,” in Louisiane Ferlier and Bendicte Miyamoto, eds., Forms and Formats: The Diversity of Print in the Eighteenth Century (Oxford: Oxford Bibliographical Society)(forthcoming 2016)

“Circling a paper world: the global process of producing Pacific travel accounts in the long 18th century,” in Rouven Kunstmann, Priyasha Mukhopadhyay and Asha Rogers, eds., The Global History of the Book (Houndsmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave) (forthcoming 2016)

“Anson struck in gold, silver, and copper: naval heroism and the material culture of commemoration,” in James Davey and Quintin Colville, eds., A New Naval History (Manchester: Manchester University Press)(forthcoming 2016)

“Introduction,” (co-authored with Quintin Colville and Elin Jones, Journal for Maritime Research, co- edited as a special issue on gender in maritime history by Katherine Parker, Quintin Colville, and Elin Jones(forthcoming, November 2015)

“Pocketing the World: Globes as commodities in the eighteenth century” IMCoS Journal no 141 (summer 2015): 47-53.

“Rewriting Admiral Anson as Naval Hero: biographical depictions of Sir George Anson from the eighteenth to the mid-twentieth century” The Trafalgar Chronicle, 24 (2014): 81-94.