Location: Bowdoin / Meghan K. Roberts


Meghan Roberts

Assistant Professor of History


Contact Information


Dudley Coe Building - 301A

Teaching this semester

HIST 1009. Reacting to the Past

Meghan Roberts
Immersion in the religious, political, and scientific culture of early modern Europe through the study of two key episodes: Galileo's trial and Henry VIII's efforts to assume control of the Church of England. Students participate in these debates through role-playing games. Each plays a historical figure and attempts to shape the course of events. After an initial set-up phase, students take charge of the class, giving speeches, writing letters, conducting secret negotiations, and otherwise working to convince their classmates of their views. Note: This course is part of the following field(s) of study: Europe. It also fulfills the pre-modern requirement for history majors.

HIST 2062. Europe's Age of Expansion, 1492-1789

Meghan Roberts
The practice of European politics changed dramatically between the Renaissance and the American Revolution. National governments became more centralized and more powerful. At the same time, Europe transformed from a relatively weak region to a dominant world power. Specific topics include political thought, cross-cultural encounters, fiscal crisis and reform, policing, commerce, war, and rebellion. Note: This course is part of the following field(s) of study: Europe, Atlantic Worlds, and Colonial Worlds. It also fulfills the pre-modern requirement for history majors.

Meghan Roberts - Bowdoin College HistoryMedieval and Early Modern Studies Program, Bowdoin College


  • Ph.D., History, Northwestern University (2011)

  • M.A., History, Northwestern University (2006)

  • B.A., History, College of William and Mary (2004)


I am a historian of early modern Europe and the Atlantic World with particular interests in cultural history and the history of science and medicine. My work has been supported by numerous fellowships, including a Jacob K. Javits fellowship from the Department of Education and a Millstone Fellowship from the Western Society for French History.

Curriculum Vitae (PDF) PDF


My first book, Sentimental Savants: Philosophical Families in Enlightenment France, is forthcoming with the University of Chicago Press. This book examines how the thinkers of the age attempted to live the Enlightenment. It is a story that starts at home. The Enlightenment was not an austere age of reason but rather a time when reason and emotion, science and sensibility, public and private, went neatly hand in hand. Eager to establish themselves as individuals of virtue and sentiment, savants flaunted their seemingly idyllic family lives. Rather than shuttering themselves in their studies, the sentimental savants of Enlightenment France claimed to live in and for society. They imagined themselves to be a new sort of public figure: learned men and women whose happy home lives enabled, rather than constrained, their intellectual work. They used their family homes to develop new ideas, new social theories, and new cultural practices. Their loving marriages testified to their sensitivity and sociability while their domestic experiences provided a strong empirical foundation on which to build their claims about science, medicine, and philosophy. Learned wives and children contributed to the household production of knowledge. These thinkers shone a spotlight on their domestic lives in an effort to further the cause of Enlightenment. By drawing attention to the virtues of private life and by practicing an intimate brand of empiricism, they opened up debates about the relevance of personal virtue to public authority and intellectual acumen.

Refereed Journal Articles

"Learned and Loving: Representing Women Astronomers in Enlightenment France," forthcoming in the Journal of Women's History.

“Philosophes Mariés and Epouses Philosophiques: Men of Letters and Marriage in Eighteenth-Century France,” French Historical Studies 35, no. 3 (Summer 2012), 509-539.

My current course rotation introduces students to the political, cultural, and social history of early modern Europe and the Atlantic World.

  • History 127/1160 Early Modern Europe, from Reformations to Revolutions
  • History 243/2060 Old Regime and Revolutionary France 
  • History 271/2061 Culture Wars in the Age of Enlightenment
  • History 2062 History 2062 Europe's Age of Expansion, 1492-1789
  • History 278/2540 The Politics of Private Life
  • History 2541 Crime and Punishment
  • History 324/3060: Remembering the French Revolution
  • History 3061 Age of Atlantic Revolutions

  • Fletcher Family Research Grant
    Bowdoin College
  • Course Development Award
    Bowdoin College
  • Harold Perkin Prize, co-winner, awarded to the best dissertation of the year
    Department of History, Northwestern University
  • Presidential Fellowship
    Northwestern University Society of Fellows
  • Millstone Fellowship
    Western Society for French History
  • Jacob K. Javits Fellowship
    U.S. Department of Education