Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Thomas Dixon

Thomas Dixon is Lecturer in History at Queen Mary, University of London, and the author of the forthcoming The Invention of Altruism: Making Moral Meanings in Victorian Britain and Science and Religion: A Very Short Introduction.

I recently asked him what he was reading. His reply:
Two brilliant books I received as Christmas gifts are at the top of my current pile of books – Roy Porter’s London: A Social History and Vic Gatrell’s City of Laughter: Sex and Satire in Eighteenth-Century London. I love Gillray’s caricatures and political cartoons, and Gatrell’s book is lavishly illustrated with literally hundreds of satirical prints by Gillray, Rowlandson, and others.

The novel I read most recently was Julian Barnes’s Arthur & George – a gripping historical tale based on a real-life mystery involving a solicitor accused of mutilating animals, and which brings to life all sorts of interesting Victorian and Edwardian themes, including Arthur Conan Doyle’s professional and private lives and his interest in spiritualism.

I can thoroughly recommend Jon Ronson’s journalism – an addictive combination of humour, politics, and a keen sense of the bizarre. I bought his latest – What I Do: More True Tales of Everyday Craziness – for several of my friends for Christmas. His earlier book, Them: Adventures with Extremists, is also fantastic.
Thomas Dixon earned a degree in Theology and Religious Studies (Cambridge), has an MSc in the History and Philosophy of Science from Imperial College, London; his PhD (Cambridge) was a study of the history of theories of passions and emotions.

He has pursued three related strands of research: the history of theories of passions and emotions; the history of debates about ‘altruism’, especially in Victorian Britain; and, more generally, the history of relationships between science and religion. Two of his essay-reviews for the Times Literary Supplement are available online: one is on the philosophy of emotion, the other on science and religion.

Learn more about his Science and Religion: A Very Short Introduction at the Oxford University Press website, and visit Thomas Dixon's faculty webpage to learn more about his other publications and research interests.

--Marshal Zeringue