Max Long

PhD candidate in Modern British History

My doctoral research is concerned with the intersections between popular culture, science and mass media in early-twentieth century Britain. My principal focus is on natural history and biology films and BBC radio productions from the inter-war period; I am interested in how these were made, the different individuals involved in creating them, and their place in contemporary scientific knowledge production. I am particularly interested in audiences, and how new media representations of the natural world were understood within popular culture. My research has so far focused on the inter-war natural history film series 'Secrets of Nature' (1924-1933) and 'Secrets of Life' (1934-1946). Among the individuals that I study are F. Percy Smith, Mary Field, Julian Huxley, F. Martin Duncan, H. Munro Fox, H. R. Hewer, W. P. Pycraft, J. V. Durden, Marion Cran, Bernard Keen and David Seth-Smith. I am also interested in the history of agriculture, especially how new media like film and radio were used to communicate knowledge about agricultural science, both in the United Kingdom and throughout the British empire.

I am supervised by Peter Mandler, and my PhD is funded by the Wolfson Foundation. Before beginning my PhD, I completed a BA in History at Oxford, and then came to Cambridge to do an MPhil in Modern and Contemporary Literature. I also spent a year as a William Alexander Fleet Fellow at Princeton University. I am a member of the New York-Cambridge Training Collaboration (NYCTC), and last year I was a Prize Research Student at the Centre for History and Economics.

- Modern British History

- History of Science and Technology

- Popular Culture

- Media history, history of communications

- Environmental History

- History of Emotions

I am available to supervise Part I students taking the following papers:

- Paper 6: British political history since 1880

- Paper 11: British economic and social history, since c.1880

‘Tuning into nature in interwar Britain: the life sciences on film and radio’, Practicing Evidence, Evidencing Practice Conference, Technische Universität München, 18-21 February, 2020.

‘Secrets of Nature: Natural history films, education and the Middlesex Experiment’. NYCTC Graduate Training Workshop, Cambridge, 22 March 2019.


Tags & Themes


Key publications

‘The Ciné-Biologists: Natural history film and the co-production of knowledge in interwar Britain’, British Journal for the History of Science, 53.4 (2020).

‘Light, Vision and Observation in Norman Nicholson’s Topographical Notes’, Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, 96.2 (2020).

'Secrets of Nature', Viewfinder, 117 (2021)

‘Review: James G. Mansell, The Age of Noise in Britain’, Cultural History, 7.1 (2018).

‘Review: Andrew Gaedtke, Modernism and the Machinery of Madness’, Rethinking History, 22.4 (2018)

‘Uncivilised Mountaineers’, The Cambridge Humanities Review, 17 (2018).

‘Review: Brian Hochman, Savage Preservation’, History of Anthropology Newsletter (2017).

‘Patrick Leigh Fermor, Memory and the process of revision’, in Patrick Leigh Fermor: The Journey Continues. Mouseio Benaki Journal, 9th Supplement (2017).