Ben Marsh grew up in Oxfordshire, completed his undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at the University of Cambridge (Downing College), and subsequently taught at Brunel University (2001-2) the University of Oxford, where he was a Lecturer in Colonial & Revolutionary American History (2002-4), and the University of Stirling in Scotland (2004-14). He is joining the School of History at Kent in September 2014.
His main research interests are in the social and economic history of the Atlantic world c.1500-1800 and the settlement of early America, including gender and race history, the US South and slave societies, demography, the American Revolution, and latterly textile history. His first book, Georgia’s Frontier Women, explained how women’s lives and experiences were central to the history and evolution of the colony of Georgia between the 1730s and 1790s.
He is currently nearing completion of a longstanding research project on attempts to cultivate silk in the Atlantic world, which explores the intersections between political economy, utopianism, textile and commodity history, migration, and colonialism – entitled “Unravelling Dreams: Silkworms and the Atlantic World, c.1500-1840.” Supported by an AHRC Research Fellowship in 2013 as well as smaller grants from the Pasold Textile Research Fund, the Carnegie Trust, the Library Company of Philadelphia, and the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the project addresses why, how, and with what success different regions of the Americas took on the challenge of sericulture. Aspects of the research were recently recognised with the award of the Natalie Rothstein Prize by the Textile Society (2013), and Ben was featured as a consultant and guest on the BBC Radio 4 series presented by Steph McGovern in October 2013, "Silk."
Beyond Silk, Ben is also working on a microhistory of an episode of geophagy (clay eating) in a community of Lutherans on the Savannah River in the late eighteenth century, and is co-editing a volume with Mike Rapport (University of Glasgow) on “Understanding and Teaching the Age of Revolutions” which is part of the Harvey Goldberg series to be published with the University of Wisconsin Press.
Ben would be happy to field any questions or explore any potential postgraduate research topics that relate to his areas of expertise.
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