Dr Franziska E Kohlt
- Position: Leverhulme Research Fellow in History of Science
- Areas of expertise: Science Communication; Literature and Science; History of Childhood; History of Psychology & Psychiatry; Medical Humanities; Environmental Humanities
- Email: F.E.Kohlt@leeds.ac.uk
- Location: LG 15 Baines Wing
- Website: Personal Website | Mastodon | Twitter | LinkedIn | Googlescholar | Researchgate | ORCID
I am a historian of science, scholar of comparative literature, researcher and practitioner in science communication, with a diverse background in public engagement, heritage and media.
I joined the History of Science Centre in 2022 to work with Jon Topham and Jim Secord on the Leverhulme-funded ‘Science for the People’ project.
I previously held a Templeton-funded Postdoctoral Research Fellowship with the ECLAS group at the University of York, to study Science-Religion narratives in Science Communication, past and present, at the Department for Sociology.
I hold a DPhil at the University of Oxford which I investigated the emergence of Victorian Psychology and Fantastic Literature as sister phenomena, an 19th Century Studies from the University of Sheffield, and a BA in Communication and Media Science from the University of Leipzig.
I am an expert on Lewis Carroll and holder of the Inaugural USC Carrollian Fellowship, and editor of the Lewis Carroll Review.
I have engaged in extensive engagement and consultancy work, and have appeared international broadcast and print media, including on BBC “In Our Time”, to speak about Automata, and “The Forum” to explore Mirrors and Moths. I authored Audible original Sleep and Folklore in Popular Culture (2022), worked as curator, for instance with the Royal Entomological Society, and as consultant, amongst others with the Catholic Climate Action Laudato Si. I am also a past translator for Marvel Comics.
Science Communication, in Past and Present
My research is primarily concerned with the role of language in communication around science, with metaphors, narratives, and how variations in their usage affect public understandings of science, and behaviours based on them.
I have investigated the role of narrative, especially religious metaphors and narratives in past and present, in environmental and health communication, for instance in the effects of “apocalypse” metaphors in the communication of biodiversity loss and climate crisis, “sacrifice” and “war” language during Covid-19, which I have analysed comparatively with the language during the Victorian cholera crisis.
Children’s Literature and Science
Science literature for children has a sustainable influence on our understanding of science, and have historically constituted a crucial component in endeavours in public science education. My research is interested in the subjects, and forms were deemed valuable and appropriate for children, and what insights the resulting languages and narratives allow into the motivations and ideological dimensions and cultures of science, in past and present.
Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson)
I have a long-standing interest in the life and works of Lewis Carroll, especially in reconstructing his scientific and polymathic biography. I have authored articles on how Lewis Carroll’s preoccupation with entomology, and involvement in the shifting professional field of Victorian psychiatry were reflected in his writings. I am currently editing “Through the Looking-Glass: A Companion” and writing “Alice through the Wonderglass: The surprising histories of a children’s classic”.
Environmental and Entomological History
A significant part of my work around communication focuses on shifting discourses and cultural constructions of “Nature”, “Environment” and “Ecology” in
science writing, especially in “popular science” and “Children’s literature” (themselves ever-shifting concepts). I explore entomology, especially in the 19th century, as a participatory, citizen science, and how it can complexify theories secularisation, professionalisation, and scientific and knowledge-making hierarchies in Victorian society and beyond.
Dreams and Unconsciousness in History of Science and Culture
I am currently working on a monograph investigating the emergence of Victorian psychology of the unconscious, and fantastic literature as sister-disciplines. Through reconstructing the scientific biographies of writers of fantastic literature, Lewis Carroll, George MacDonald and Charles Kingsley, I examine the narratives, and language their engagement with challenging concepts in the study of mind produced, and its long term impact on the communication and understanding of these ideas.
- DPhil, English Literature & History of Science, University of Oxford
- MA, Nineteenth Century Studies, University of Sheffield
- BA, English & Communication and Media Science, University of Leipzig
- British Society for Literature and Science
- British Society for the History of Science
- British Sociological Association
- Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing
- European Association for the Study of Literature, Culture and Environment
- British Association for Victorian Studies
- Children’s History Society
- Lewis Carroll Society
- George MacDonald Society
- Higher Education Academy