Dr Sara Caputo

Lumley Research Fellow in History, Magdalene College
Dr Sara Caputo
My main areas of interest are eighteenth- and nineteenth-century transnational maritime history and British imperial history. I focus on the cultural, social, technological, medical, and geographical history of maritime mobilities and exchange.

I completed my PhD at Robinson College, Cambridge, under the supervision of Dr 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 in 2019/20. This doctoral research was funded by an Arts and Humanities Research Council grant and a Robinson College Lewis Research Scholarship in 2015-18, and an Institute of Historical Research 12-month Scouloudi Fellowship in 2018/19.
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 Junior Research Fellow at Magdalene College.
I am currently completing the manuscript of a book on the foreign sailors who served in the Royal Navy during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. It investigates the 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 also working on some new projects in the history of maritime cartography, as well as a transnational and comparative study of eighteenth-century naval medicine seen 'from below'.
- 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.
I welcome enquiries from undergraduate students wishing to research maritime, transnational, or eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British history for their Part II Dissertations.

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 in 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, forthcoming 2025-7).
Journal articles
‘Mercenary Gentlemen? The Transnational Service of Foreign Quarterdeck Officers in the Royal Navy of the American and French Wars, 1775-1815’, Historical Research (forthcoming).
Joint winner of the Sir Julian Corbett Prize, 2020.
'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.