I studied History, Politics, and German Language and Literature at Heidelberg University, Germany, before completing a D.Phil. in Modern History at Oxford University. I joined the Department of History at Liverpool in 2004, after holding postdoctoral fellowships and temporary lectureships at Oxford, King's College London and the London School of Economics.
I am a historian of late medieval and early modern political culture with an emphasis on the Iberian world (c.1400 - c.1700). My research joins the histories of political thought and culture with the histories of violence and emotion. I am interested in how knowledge - such as legal, theological, scientific or historical knowledge - relates to political expertise, decision-making and practice. Currently, I am working on the dynamics of massacre in the early modern and modern world. I am focusing on the (self-)perception of perpetrators of mass killings and on the ways in which complex cultural norms shaped the exercise and experience of violence. I also have a growing interest in ideas about societal change and alternative futures as expressed, for instance, in early modern and modern utopian and dystopian texts.
I am the editor-in-chief of Renaissance and Early Modern Worlds of Knowledge, the flagship book series of the Society for Renaissance Studies (www.rensoc.org). I am also the founding editor (with Pedro Cardim, Universidad Nova de Lisboa) of a new book series Early Modern Iberian History in Global Contexts: Connexions (Routledge)