Spotlight on Emma Hart
October 4, 2013 Leave a comment
Dr Emma Hart joined the School of History in 2001 as a Lecturer in Modern History. Born in Edinburgh, brought up in Leicester and educated at Somerville College, Oxford and The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, USA, she was (and still is) delighted to be back in Scotland. She is primarily a historian of early America but also maintains a keen interest in early modern British history.
To date, Emma’s research interests have principally focused on urban history. Her first book, entitled Building Charleston, is an exploration of the rise to prominence of this South Carolinian metropolis, which was among early America’s largest towns. Looking at Charleston in the light of larger urbanization processes that were underway in Britain and its American colonies, Emma’s study showed that previous historians had been wrong to dismiss the town as peripheral to the development of plantation society. Instead, Charleston was vital to the early emergence of a middle class in Britain’s southern colonies.
In a bid to continue her research trips to the beautiful sub-tropical South Carolina and its sandy beaches, Emma’s recent work maintains Charleston as a focus. However, she is branching out to incorporate Philadelphia and the equally glamorous “Old World” locations of Glasgow and Newcastle in her new research project. A comparative history of British and American marketplaces between 1660 and American Independence, her next book will show how looking at the spatial and physical characteristics of the market can help us to understand the processes by which capitalism took divergent paths in different areas of the British Atlantic world over the course of the eighteenth century.
Emma’s teaching offerings very much reflect her research interests, and she runs a range of courses at honours level that focus on the settlement of early America, the American city, the American Revolution, the history of American slavery, and the consumer market place in Britain and America. She is also coordinator of the interdisciplinary ID1004 “Great Ideas” module, a fascinating job which has brought her into contact with faculty from across the university and has also required her to revisit her long-forgotten (and rather limited) GCSE science knowledge.
When she is not at work, Emma is usually to be found at home with her husband and two young daughters, at the gym pursuing her passion for Zumba, or enjoying an evening of karaoke with colleague Katie Stevenson, who is the better singer by far.