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Dr Simeon KooleBA (Oxon.), MPhil (Cantab.), DPhil (Oxon.)

Lecturer in Liberal Arts and History

Simeon Koole

Dr Simeon KooleBA (Oxon.), MPhil (Cantab.), DPhil (Oxon.)

Lecturer in Liberal Arts and History

Member of

Research interests

My research works at the intersection of the history of perception and global histories of exchange and territorialization. Focused especially on the cultural history of modern Britain, it draws on the history of science, urban, environmental, disability, and sensory history to explore how the sensory experience of the city shaped and was shaped by broader shifts in capital, labour, and imperial politics. I also have interests in photographic and critical theory.

My first book, Nervous Hands, Stolen Kisses, and the Press of Everyday Life: Touch in Britain, 1870-1960, examines how the understanding, experience, and practice of touch changed in modern Britain. Through a series of case studies it explores different yet intertwined domains of knowledge in which the object and practice of touch dramatically redefined one another. It explains how in domains as diverse as neurological experiment and teashop etiquette the way that people touched changed both their understanding and experience of themselves as bodies and, inseparably, as selves. From the history of minding the gap on the Underground to the eerie perception of space during a London fog, how people touched – or avoided touch – in turn transformed broader histories of consumption, desire, personal space, citizenship, and scientific and legal knowledge. By tracing these histories, I provide a critique of touch and show how sensory history might be understood as a means of critique, both within and beyond the history of modern Britain.

I am also working on a new project examining the intimate history of London’s Docklands from the opening of the Suez Canal to the Suez Crisis. This project explores how the global histories of trade, migration, and colonial expansion acting upon London’s Docklands shaped and inflected the microhistory of perception within it. It brings together sensory, environmental, and world history to show how developments in late nineteenth-century territoriality and trade developed in and through everyday patterns of exclusion, kinship, and boundary-making in London’s streets and waterways. Through doing so, it aims to critically examine analytic understandings of citizenship and territoriality, and the ways in which we think about scale in history-writing.

Before joining Bristol as a Lecturer, I previously held a fellowship at Princeton University (2013-14) and taught at the University of Oxford.

Research Supervision

I welcome enquiries about postgraduate supervision on any topic relating to the cultural history of modern Britain, especially the history of sensation, visual and urban culture, or the history of the mind sciences. Do get in touch to discuss any plans for research.


I currently teach undergraduate courses on historiography and the history of the British Empire; in the Liberal Arts I teach the methodological unit Reading the Past.

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Postal address:
13 Woodland Road
United Kingdom