Dr Sara Caputo

Lumley Research Fellow in History, Magdalene College
Dr Sara Caputo
My general areas of interest are eighteenth- and nineteenth-century transnational maritime history, British and European imperial history, and Scottish history. My research considers various aspects of maritime mobilities and exchange, studied from the point of view of socioeconomic, cultural, medical, environmental, and technological history.

I completed my PhD at Robinson College, Cambridge, under the supervision of Professor Renaud Morieux. My thesis on 'Foreign Seamen and the British Navy, 1793-1815' was selected as joint winner of the University's Prince Consort and Thirlwall Prize and Seeley Medal, and as winner of the British Commission for Maritime History Boydell & Brewer Prize for best doctoral thesis in maritime history completed in the UK. This doctoral research was funded by an Arts and Humanities Research Council grant, a Robinson College Lewis Research Scholarship, and an Institute of Historical Research 12-month Scouloudi Fellowship.
In the past, I have been an honorary Vice-Chancellor's Scholar at the University of Cambridge, an International Visiting Fellow at the Deutsches Schifffahrtsmuseum in Bremerhaven, Germany, a W. M. Keck Foundation Fellow at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, and an honorary Caird Fellow at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. Some of my work was selected as winner of the Scottish History Society Earl of Rosebery Prize (2021), as joint winner of the Institute of Historical Research Sir Julian Corbett Prize in Modern Naval History (2021), and as runner-up to the Social History of Medicine Society Roy Porter Prize (2019) and International Committee for the History of Technology Maurice Daumas Prize (2021).

In October 2019 I started my current job as Lumley Research Fellow at Magdalene College.
I have just completed the manuscript of a book entitled Foreign Jack Tars: The British Navy and Transnational Seafarers during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Forthcoming with Cambridge University Press, it investigates the economic, legal, social, cultural and diplomatic context of transnational 'encounters' and employment aboard British naval vessels, drawing on primary sources from British, Dutch, Italian, Maltese, and American archives, as well as further material from Denmark, Norway, France, Germany, and Spain. I am interested in combining different historiographical methodologies, qualitative and quantitative.

I am currently working on three new projects:
- A second book, under contract with Profile Books, entitled Tracks on the Ocean, investigating the history of Western cartographical representations of maritime travel. For more background on the origins of this project see here.
- A comparative and transnational history of naval medicine in the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British, French, and Spanish Navies, including a perspective 'from below'.
- An edition of letters and journals written by Scottish boys who served in the British Navy during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.
- Supervising and lecturing for Part I Paper 10, British Economic and Social History, 1700-1880.

- Supervising and lecturing for Part I Paper 5, British Political History 1688-1886. Four-part lecture series on 'Britain and the Sea in the Long Eighteenth Century'.

- Historical Argument and Practice: Lecture on 'Oceans' in 2021-22, seminar sessions and supervisions on various topics.

- Supervising and lecturing for Part II Specified Subject 24, Rethinking Europe from the Mediterranean Shores, 1796-1914.
- Lecturing for Part I Paper 21, Empires and World History from the Fifteenth Century to the First World War.
Additionally, I have supervised Historical Projects for the History and Politics Tripos, and Part II Biological and Biomedical Sciences undergraduates taking the Early Science and Medicine paper in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science.
I welcome enquiries from undergraduate students wishing to research maritime, transnational, or eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British and European history for their Part II Dissertations.
I am an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

2016-2020 Outreach widening participation lecturing and mentoring with the Cambridge University Admissions Office (including Experience Cambridge, Sutton Scholars, Insight Explore Summer Mentoring and The Subject Matters programmes) and The Brilliant Club charity. Various talks and sessions on History and on International Relations.

2016-17 Co-convenor of the Cambridge Modern British History Workshop.

Member of the organising committee of the Cambridge AHRC DTP international conference on 'Tradition and Transformation', 18-20 September 2017.

Key publications

Foreign Jack Tars: The British Navy and Transnational Seafarers during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (Cambridge University Press, in press).
Tracks on the Ocean (Profile Books, under contract, forthcoming 2023).
Scottish Young Gentlemen in the British Royal Navy, 1791-1818 (Boydell & Brewer for the Scottish History Society, under contract).
Journal articles
'Treating, Preventing, Feigning, Concealing: Sickness, Agency, and the Medical Culture of the British Naval Seaman at the End of the Long Eighteenth Century', Social History of Medicine (advance access, 2021).
‘Mercenary Gentlemen? The Transnational Service of Foreign Quarterdeck Officers in the Royal Navy of the American and French Wars, 1775-1815’, Historical Research 94:266 (2021), 806-26.
'Exploration and Mortification: Fragile Infrastructures, Imperial Narratives, and the Self-Sufficiency of British Naval “Discovery” Vessels, 1760-1815', History of Science, special issue 'From Hansa to Lufthansa: Transportation Technologies and the Mobility of Science' (OnlineFirst, 2020).
'Alien Seamen in the British Navy, British Law, and the British State, c.1793 - c.1815', The Historical Journal 62:3 (2019), pp. 685-707.
'Towards a Transnational History of the Eighteenth-Century British Navy / Vers une histoire transnationale de la marine britannique au XVIIIème siècle’, Annales Historiques de la Révolution Française 397 – 'Perspectives Transnationales, 1780s-1820' (2019), pp. 13-32.
‘Scotland, Scottishness, British Integration and the Royal Navy, 1793-1815’, The Scottish Historical Review 97:1 (2018), pp. 85-118.

Other publications

Book reviews

- Naomi Lloyd-Jones and Margaret Scull (eds), Four Nations Approaches to Modern ‘British’ History: A (Dis)united Kingdom? (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), Reviews in History (forthcoming).

- Paul Ashton and Alex Trapeznik (eds), What Is Public History Globally?: Working with the Past in the Present (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2019), Rethinking History 24:2 (2020), pp. 255-7.

- Lenora Warren, Fire on the Water: Sailors, Slaves, and Insurrection in Early American Literature, 1789-1886 (Lewisburg PA: Bucknell University Press, 2019), H-War (June 2020).

- John Morrow, British Flag Officers in the French Wars, 1793-1815: Admirals’ Lives (London and New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2018), History: Reviews of New Books 47:1 (2019), pp. 14-15.

- Margarette Lincoln, Trading in War: London’s Maritime World in the Age of Cook and Nelson (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2018), The London Journal 44:1 (2019), pp. 87-8.

- Helen Watt and Anne Hawkins (eds), Letters of Seamen in the Wars with France 1793-1815 (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2016), Archives 52:1 (2018), pp. 81-3.

Public history

- ‘When Subjecthood and Citizenship Did not Matter: the Royal Navy and Foreign Seamen in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars’, 7 November 2018, Cambridge Core Blog, Cambridge University Press.