Eric H. Ash - Associate Professor

Eric Ash was born and raised in upstate New York; he has taught at Wayne State since the fall of 2002 and is the current Director of Graduate Studies. His teaching & research interests broadly include the history of Britain, early modern Europe, the history of science & technology, and environmental history; his publications to date have concentrated on issues of expertise, experts, and expert cultures in early modern England and Europe. Ash's first book, Power, Knowledge, and Expertise in Elizabethan England, explored the role of “expert mediators” in facilitating English state formation and centralized governance during the latter sixteenth century, with particular attention to technical undertakings such as copper mining, harbor construction, and mathematical navigation. He is also the editor of a volume of the prestigious history of science journal Osiris, which presented a number of case studies of expertise in the service of the state throughout early modern Europe.


Dr. Ash's current book project, tentatively entitled “Draining the Fens: Projectors, Popular Politics, and the English State,” is a detailed examination of the drainage and reclamation of the English Fens during the seventeenth century. The project brings together important themes and issues from political history, social history, environmental history, and the history of technology. Dr. Ash is married, and has two children; in his spare time he enjoys Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers baseball, cooking, and the blues.



Ph.D., Princeton University

M.A., Princeton University

A.B., Harvard University


Select Publications

Power, Knowledge, and Expertise in Elizabethan England. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004.


Edited Volumes

Expertise: Practical Knowledge and the Early Modern State, Osiris vol. 25. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010.


Articles, Chapters, and Review Essays

“Expertise and the Early Modern State,” Osiris 25 (2010): 1-24.


“Amending Nature: Draining the English Fens,” in The mindful hand: inquiry and invention from the late Renaissance to early industrialisation, ed. Lissa Roberts, Simon Schaffer, and Peter Dear (Edita and University of Chicago Press, 2007), 117-143.


“Navigation Techniques and Practice in the Renaissance,” in The History of Cartography, vol. 3,Cartography in the European Renaissance, ed. by David Woodward (University of Chicago Press, 2007), 509-527.


“Trading Expertise: Sebastian Cabot between Spain and England” (co-authored with Alison Sandman), Renaissance Quarterly 57 (2004): 813-846.


“‘A note and a Caveat for the Merchant’: Mercantile Advisors in Elizabethan England,” The Sixteenth Century Journal 33 (2002): 1-31.


“Queen v. Northumberland, and the Control of Technical Expertise,” History of Science 39 (2001): 215-240.


“‘A perfect and an absolute work’: Expertise, Authority, and the Rebuilding of Dover Harbor, 1579-1583,” Technology and Culture 41 (2000): 239-268.


Select Awards
Dibner Fellowship in the History of Science, The Huntington Library, San Marino, CA, 2013-14


Humanities Center Faculty Fellowship Award, Wayne State University, 2009-10


President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, Wayne State University, 2008-09


Career Development Chair Award, Wayne State University, 2007-08


College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Teaching Award, Wayne State University, 2005-06


National Science Foundation Scholar’s Award, Science and Technology Studies Division, 2002-04 (SES-0301851)


Postdoctoral fellowship, Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology, 2001-02


Courses Regularly Taught
Europe and the World, 1500-1945 (HIS 1300) 

The Scientific Revolution (HIS 5407) 

Britain, 1485-1714 (HIS 5550)

Britain in the Age of Empire (HIS 5555)

Modern Britain (HIS 5556) 

Capstone Course for History Majors (HIS 5996)

Graduate Seminar in Early Modern European History (HIS 8235)

3121 FAB
Research Area
Science & Technology
(313) 577-2525
(313) 577-6987
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