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Elisabeth Wallmann

I am currently an Early Career Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Study (IAS) and a seminar tutor in the School of Modern Languages (French Studies) and the Department of History. My PhD research explored the manifold ways in which insects and humans interacted during the period of the French Enlightenment, and asked in what ways investigations of animals contributed to new ways of governing humans. This project was jointly supervised by Dr. Katherine Astbury and Dr. Claudia Stein.

Before coming to Warwick, I completed a BA at the University of Oxford (French and Italian) and a MA at UCL (Language, History and Culture).

From January to June 2015 I was a visiting predoctoral research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin (I am a native speaker of German as well as English).

My Research

My Phd dissertation sought to shed new light on both the functions of the eighteenth-century natural history of animals and on the then nascent field of political economy by combining the framework of Michel Foucault’s analysis of biopolitics with insights from recent work in animal studies. It argues that in eighteenth-century France both fields of knowledge began to be structured by their concern with how to govern a ‘population’. Each of the four dissertation chapters analyses a different aspect of investigations of insects in order to show how the new figure of the ‘population’ was conceived through the observation of animals. While Foucault was famously silent on the role of animals, this dissertation argues that natural historical observations were crucial in enabling eighteenth-century writers to think through and make visible this new political ‘body’.


'On Poets and Insects: Figures of the Human Figures of the Insect in Pierre Perrin's Divers Insectes (1645)', French History 28:2 (2014), Special Issue on Animals in French History, 172-187.


Munz, Tania, The Dancing Bees: Karl von Frisch and the Discovery of the Honeybee Language (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016), German History (2016)

Franck Salaün and Jean-Pierre Schandeler (eds.), Entre belles-lettres et disciplines. Les savoirs au xviiie siècle. Ferney-Voltaire: Centre international d’étude du xviiie siècle, 2011 and Adrien Paschoud and Nathalie Vuillemin (eds.), Penser l’ordre naturel (1680-1810), SVEC 2012:09. Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies 37.4 (2014), 585.

Conference organisation

Re-Imagining the Insect: Natures and Cultures of Invertebrates 1700-1900, University of Warwick, 7th March 2014 (co-organising with Emilie Taylor-Brown)

You can also read about our conference in the journal The Learned Pig, where Emilie and I gave an interview.

1st Sub-Faculty of Modern Languages Postgraduate Symposium, University of Warwick, 2nd and 3rd June 2014 (instigator and co-organiser with Kate Willman)

Elisabeth Wallmann IAS

Elisabeth Wallmann

E dot Wallmann at warwick dot ac dot uk