D. Graham Burnett

D. Graham Burnett

Fellow: Awarded 2013
Field of Study: Economics

Competition: US & Canada

Princeton University

D. Graham Burnett is an editor at Cabinet, the Brooklyn-based quarterly of art and culture; he teaches at Princeton University, where he holds an appointment as Professor of History and History of Science, and affiliations with the Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in the Humanities (I-HUM), the School of Architecture, and the Princeton Environmental Institute.

Burnett studies the relationship between power and knowledge, and writes on human beings’ changing understanding of nature, art, and technology. He is the author of five books: Masters of All They Surveyed (Chicago, 2000) examines the history of the geographical sciences through the long nineteenth century, with an emphasis on map-making and British colonial ambitions; A Trial By Jury (Knopf, 2001), a work of narrative nonfiction centered on problems of truth and evidence, tells the story of a distressing and intricate Manhattan murder trial; Descartes and the Hyperbolic Quest (American Philosophical Society, 2005) investigates Cartesian optics, threading links between early modern philosophical speculation and bench-work craft practices; Trying Leviathan (Princeton, 2007), winner of the New York City Book Award, surveys changing ideas of natural order across the hundred years that stretched from the writings of Linnaeus to those of Darwin; The Sounding of the Whale (Chicago, 2012) takes up the remarkable cultural and scientific life of cetaceans in the last century, a period that saw these animals go from industrial commodities to avatars of the Age of Aquarius.


Burnett won the Pyne Prize at Princeton in 1993, and was a Marshall Scholar at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he completed a Ph.D. in the History and Philosophy of Science, receiving the Nebenzahl Prize for his dissertation. Before returning to Princeton, he taught at Yale and Columbia Universities, and was an inaugural fellow at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers (NYPL). Grants from the Howard Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Mellon Foundation have subsequently supported his research and writing, and he has served in various editorial capacities at several magazines and journals, including Daedalus, The American Scholar, and Lapham’s Quarterly.

Recent collaborative work has included: The Slice: Cutting to See, an exhibition at the Architectural Association (London), co-curated with Chris Turner; Free Fall: The Life and Times of Bud ‘Crosshairs” MacGinitie, a short film made with the artist Lisa Young; “Curiosity and Method,” a symposium at Princeton University co-organized with Yara Flores; and the ongoing “Attention Laboratories” at the Emily Harvey Foundation and elsewhere, which are supported by ESTAR(SER) and co-hosted with Sal Randolph and Jeff Dolven.     

Profile image by Yara Flores.

Follow this link to view an introduction to the big "Curiosity and Method" volume.


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