Eric H. Ash - Associate Professor


  • Ph.D., Princeton University, 2000 (History of Science, Early Modern Britain, Renaissance
  • M.A., Princeton University, 1996
  • A.B., Harvard University, 1994


Eric Ash was born and raised in upstate New York; he has taught at Wayne State since the fall of 2002. His major research interests include the history of experts, expertise, and expert cultures in early modern England and Europe. His first book, Power, Knowledge, and Expertise in Elizabethan England (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004), 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. His 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.


Select Publications


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

Edited Volume

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

Articles and Chapters

  • “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 (Amsterdam: Edita, and Chicago: 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 (Chicago: 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

  • WSU Humanities Center Faculty Fellowship Award, 2009-10
  • WSU President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, 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

  • HIS 1300, “Europe and the World, 1500-1945”
  • HIS 5407, “The Scientific Revolution”
  • HIS 5550, “Britain, 1485-1714”
  • HIS 5555, “Britain in the Age of Empire”
  • HIS 5556, “Modern Britain”
  • HIS 5996, “Capstone Course for History Majors”
  • HIS 8235, “Early Modern European History” (graduate seminar)




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