History and Art History
College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Sean Takats

Sean Takats

Sean Takats

Associate Professor

European History: Eighteenth-century France and its colonies; the Enlightenment; history of medicine

Sean Takats is Associate Professor in the Department of History and Art History and Director of Research at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media (RRCHNM). His research focuses on early modern France, the Enlightenment, and the digital humanities.

Takats is author of The Expert Cook in Enlightenment France, published by the Johns Hopkins University Press in 2011. This book studies the professionalization of cooking by domestic servants, who made use of all the tools of the Enlightenment to infuse a lowly occupation with scientific and medical knowledge. Takats’s current research extends his interest in occupational expertise to the colonial world, where he explores the practices of collecting and synthesizing a wide range of exotic medical knowledge.

At RRCHNM, Takats uses digital technology to transform historical practice. He leads Zotero, the popular research software project and community, and PressForward, an experimental scholarly publishing platform. At RRCHNM he has also led other projects on text mining and the history of science. Takats is currently co-director of The Encyclopedia of Diderot and D’Alembert Collaborative Translation Project, housed at the University of Michigan.

Takats received his bachelor’s degree from Yale and his doctorate from the University of Michigan. He has received fellowships and research grants from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Institute for Museum and Library Services, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Social Science Research Council.

Selected Publications

The Expert Cook in Enlightenment France. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011.

Grants and Fellowships

PressForward 3: Establishing Sustainable Platforms and Communities of Open-Access Scholarship, funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, $736,000, Principal Investigator (2015–2018).

Tropy: Digital Image Management for the Humanities Research Community, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, $600,000, Co-Principal Investigator (2015–2017).

PressForward 2: Implementing New Modes and New Platforms of Open-Access Scholarship, funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, $481,000, Principal Investigator (2014–2015).

Understanding the Role of Social Media in Scholarly Communication, funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, $360,000, Project Director (2014–2016).

Discovery and Archiving with Zotero and Library Resources, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, $440,000, Co-Principal Investigator (2014–2016).

The PressForward Initiative: Creating New Modes and New Platforms for Scholarship Beyond Traditional Forms, funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, $862,000, Principal Investigator (2013–2014).

Courses Taught

HIST 307: Old Regime and Revolutionary Europe
HIST 388: History of Western Medicine
HIST 388/ARTH 399: Taste, Fashion, and Consumption in Early Modern Europe
HIST 499: Documenting the French Revolution
HIST 635: The Enlightenment
HIST 635: First French Empire
HIST 635: The French Revolution
HIST 696: Clio Wired

Recent Presentations

“DIY Digitization: The informal uses of digital photography in special collections,” Invited speaker, Oxford University, January 2016.

“Mapping Colonial Medical Expertise of the Old Regime,” Western Society for French History, Chicago, Illinois, November 2015.

“Digital Humanities: Teaching and Research,” Invited speaker, Princeton University, March 2015.

Panel comment, “Hygiene, Public Health, and the Social Body,” Western Society for French History, San Antonio, Texas, November 2014.

“Archives Without End,” Invited speaker, Purdue University, October 2014.

Session chair, “Digitizing the French Enlightenment: A Discussion of Three Digital Humanities Projects,” Society for French Historical Studies, Université du Québec à Montréal, April 2014.

“Scholarship in the Age of Perpetual Research,” American Historical Association Annual Meeting, Washington, DC, January 2014.

In the Media

“Beta blockers?” Nature 455, no. 7214 (October 9, 2008): 708.