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Dr Lawrence Eliot Klein

Dr Lawrence Eliot Klein

University Senior Lecturer in British History (retired)

Emeritus Fellow, Emmanuel College

Emmanuel College
Cambridge CB2 3AP
Office Phone: 01223 762854


Lawrence Klein is an American, New York-born.  He was educated at the University of Rochester and the Johns Hopkins University.  He taught at Stanford University and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, before taking a position in the History Faculty in 2000.  He has served as Director of Graduate Studies and Director of Graduate Training, and from October 2015 to September 2017 was the Chair of the History Faculty.

Departments and Institutes

Emmanuel College:

Research Interests

Dr Klein is a cultural historian of Britain in the long eighteenth century.  He is interested in how individuals in the past understood themselves and their society and how they organized their lives accordingly, within the constraints of economic, social and political factors.  The main focus of his work has been ideas about ‘politeness’ and the practices that ‘politeness’ shaped.  He has published on writers who contributed to eighteenth-century thinking about ‘politeness’ (such as the third earl of Shaftesbury and Joseph Addison) and on numerous cultural themes and phenomena (manners, gender, various aspects of public life, and print culture).  He is currently working on a synthetic study of polite culture in the period.

Research Supervision

Dr Klein welcomes students interested in research on the long eighteenth century. especially topics in cultural history.  Recent and current doctoral students have written on the form and function of episcopal palaces (Michael Ashby), the Church and print culture (Jamie Latham), ideas and practices of masculinity in the late seventeenth century (Owen Brittan), femininity and politeness (Soile Ylivuori), British communities abroad (Simon MacDonald), collecting in Old Regime and nineteenth-century France (Thomas Stammers) and the contribution of religious ideas to the growth of political and cultural stability (Matthew Neal).


Dr Klein contributes to the teaching of Part I Papers 5 and 10, which cover, respectively, the political history and the economic, social and cultural history of Britain in the long eighteenth century.  He also runs a Part II course, ‘Culture and Identity in Britain’s Long Eighteenth Century’ and an MPhil option on ‘Approaches to the Long Eighteenth Century’.

Other Professional Activities

In Cambridge, Dr Klein convenes the Modern Cultural History Seminar (with Professor Peter Mandler) and the Eighteenth Century Seminar (with Dr Renaud Morieux).  He is currently on the editorial board of The Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies.  He has appeared recently at the Malmesbury Philosophytown Festival and a Festival of Thought at St Giles House, Dorset.

Key Publications

  • Shaftesbury and the Culture of Politeness: Moral Discourse and Cultural Politics in Early Eighteenth-Century England, Cambridge University Press, 1994.
  • Enthusiasm and Enlightenment in Europe, 1650-1850 (co-edited with Anthony LaVopa), Huntington Library Press, 1998
  • Edition of Shaftesbury, Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times, Cambridge University Press, 1999.

Other Publications

Recent articles in journals and essay collections include:

  • ‘Kissing for Virtuosi:  William Stukeley’s Philosophy of Pleasure’, English Historical Review,  accepted and forthcoming
  •  'Reading Shaftesbury in the Eighteenth Century', in Patrick Müller, ed., New Ages, New Opinions:  Shaftesbury in His World and Today, Peter Lang (Frankfurt am Main), 2014
  •  'Hierarchy and the Techniques of the Mediator:  Edmund Rack in Bath, 1775-1787', Cultural and Social History, Volume 10, Number 4 (December 2013)
  •  'Addisonian Afterlives:  Joseph Addison in Eighteenth-Century Culture', Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies, Volume 35, Number 1 (2012)
  •  'Sociability, Politeness, and Aristocratic Self-Formation in the Life and Career of the Second Earl of Shelburne', The Historical Journal, Volume 55, Number 3 (2012)
  •  'An Artisan in Polite Culture:  Thomas Parsons, Stone Carver, of Bath, 1744-1813', Huntington Library Quarterly, Volume 75, Number 1 (2012)
  •  'Joseph Addison’s Whiggism', in David Womersley (with Paddy Bullard and Abigail Williams), “Cultures of Whiggism”:  New Essays on English Literature and Culture in the Long Eighteenth Century, University of Delaware Press, 2005
  •  'The Theory and Practice of Letter-Writing in the Third Earl of Shaftesbury', in Giancarlo Carabelli and Paola Zanardi, eds., Il Gentleman Filosofo:  Nuovi Saggi su Shaftesbury, Il Poligrafo (Padova), 2003
  •  'The Polite Town:  Shifting Possibilities of Urbanness, 1660-1715', in Tim Hitchcock and Heather Shore, eds., The Streets of London, Rivers Oram Press, 2003
  •  'Politeness and the Interpretation of the British Eighteenth Century', The Historical Journal, Volume 45, Number 4 (2002)
  •  'Enlightenment as Conversation', in Keith Baker and Peter Reill, eds., What’s Left of Enlightenment?  A Postmodern Question , Stanford University Press, 2001
  •  'Making Philosophy Worldly in the London Periodical about 1700', in Joseph Marino and Melinda Schlitt, eds., Perspectives on Early Modern and Modern Intellectual History, University of Rochester Press, 2001
  •  'Shaftesbury et l’Identité de la Philosophie', in Fabienne Brugère and Michel Malherbe, eds., Shaftesbury: Philosophy et Politesse, Editions Honoré Champion (Paris), 2000