008: A history of the oceans and the importance of taking a historical research perspective with Helen Rozwadowski

Helen Rozwadowski is an associate professor of History and founder the Maritime Studies program at the University of Connecticut. Her teaching includes environmental history, history of science, and public history, as well as interdisciplinary maritime studies courses.

Twitter @oceanhistories 


Helen is the author of numerous books about the history of the ocean, including her most recent book titled ‘Vast Expanses: A History of the Oceans’. In the book she demonstrates that the human relationship with the ocean began in evolutionary time and has tightened dramatically since them, aims to provide a model for writing ocean history, and argues that ocean histories must examine and historicize the technologies and knowledges systems that enabled and accompanied human interactions with the sea. 


Her book, Fathoming the Ocean: The Discovery and Exploration of the Deep Sea (2005), which reveals the simultaneous scientific and cultural discovery of the ocean’s depths in the mid nineteenth century, won the History of Science Society’s Davis Prize for best book directed to a wide public audience.  She has written a history of 20th century marine science, The Sea Knows No Boundaries (2002), a history of 20th century marine sciences supporting international fisheries policy.  She has co-edited three volumes that have helped establish the field of history of oceanography: Soundings and Crossings: Doing Science at Sea 1800-1970 (2017), The Machine in Neptune’s Garden: Perspectives on Technology and the Marine Environment (2004), and Extremes: Oceanography’s Adventures at the Poles (2007).

Helen has worked in the past both as a public historian and also in academia. She won the Ida and Henry Schuman Prize from the History of Science Society, was awarded the William E. & Mary B. Ritter Fellowship of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and has received grants and fellowships from the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, the UConn Humanities Institute, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Science Foundation, and the Smithsonian Institution.

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