Dr Paul Stock

Dr Paul Stock

Associate Professor

Department of International History

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Office Hours
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Key Expertise
Intellectual and Cultural History, Idea of Europe, Travel and Tourism

About me

I specialise in the intellectual and cultural history of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Very broadly, my research and teaching interests encompass:  the history of the idea of Europe; travel and travel writing; Romanticism, the history of ‘racial’ thought; the history of cartography; and the ‘spatial turn’ in the humanities.

More specifically, my work engages with three inter-related themes.  For more details, please see my list of publications:

The History of the Idea of Europe 

My principal field is the history of the idea of Europe, especially in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Britain.  My most recent book, Europe and the British Geographical Imagination, 1760-1830 (Oxford University Press, 2019), explores what literate British people understood by the word ‘Europe’ in this period. Was Europe unified by shared religious heritage? Where were the edges of Europe? Was Europe primarily a commercial network or were there common political practices too? Was Britain itself a European country?  The book answers these questions through detailed examination of nearly 350 geographical reference works, textbooks, dictionaries, and encyclopaedias.  These volumes were widely read by literate Britons of all classes and they can reveal the formative ideas about Europe circulating in Britain.  Particular themes discussed include ideas about religion; the natural environment; race and other theories of human difference; the state; borders; the identification of the ‘centre’ and ‘edges’ of Europe; commerce and empire; and ideas about the past, progress, and historical change.  Europe and the British Geographical Imagination, 1760-1830 therefore provides thorough historical analysis of Britain's enduringly complex intellectual relationship with Europe.  For an introduction to the complex issues at stake when researching the history of the idea of Europe, see my short article ‘What is Europe?  Place, Idea, Action’ (2017) which can be read for free here.

My earlier book, The Shelley-Byron Circle and the Idea of Europe (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010) also concerns British notions of Europe.  It investigates how the titular authors and their intellectual circle understood ‘Europe’ in geographical, political and ideological terms, whilst also using other contemporary documents – newspapers, treaties, travel books – to locate their reflections within the wider context of early nineteenth-century Britain.  In addition, the book questions the conventional association of Romanticism with emerging nationalism; it argues instead that key figures in the Romantic movement were preoccupied by explicitly international and transnational themes.  Consequently the book provides a richer way to understand the development of identity politics in the period.  The introduction to The Shelley-Byron Circle and the Idea of Europe can be read for free here.

Spatial History

I am also interested in broad methodological questions, particularly the so-called ‘spatial turn’ in the humanities and social sciences.  What new perspectives can the spatial turn offer?   How can it be used to understand the societies, cultures, and mentalities of the past?   My book The Uses of Space in Early Modern History (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), sets out to answer these questions.  In the volume, leading historians discuss the uses of space in two respects: how spatial concepts can be employed by or applied to the study of history, and how spaces and spatial ideas were used for practical and ideological purposes in specific periods. The book incorporates a comprehensive range of disciplines concerned with space and history – archaeology, social history, intellectual history, imperial history, geography, and cartography – allowing for a broad variety of case studies and perspectives.  The introduction to The Uses of Space in Early Modern History can be read for free here.

My graduate course HY469:  Maps, History and Power:  The Spaces and Cultures of the Past stems from my interest in space.  The course explores how various European and non-European cultures from the medieval to the modern periods used maps both to understand the world around them, and to serve practical and ideological purposes: for instance, to express religious belief, to aid commercial interests, to assert cultural superiority, and to enable state formation or imperial control.

Real-and-Imagined Travel

Finally, I work on the history of travel and travel writing.  Using some of the insights of the ‘spatial turn’, I have begun writing about ‘real-and-imagined’ travel. I am interested in how material and other contextual circumstances can give rise to certain imaginings, and how those perspectives help shape the construction and experience of actual sites and journeys.  The advantage of this approach is that allows us to study both the physical and the rhetorical aspects of travel experiences, as well as the symbiotic relationship between them.  My main case-study so far on this topic has been philhellenic travel to Greece during the War of Independence: see my freely-available article ‘The Real-and-Imagined Spaces of Philhellenic Travel’ (2013).

My undergraduate course HY323: Travel, Pleasure and Politics: The European Grand Tour 1670-1825 derives from my research on travel and travel writing.  The course explores the motivations, preconceptions, activities and attitudes of the Grand Tourists, showing how they shaped the modern tourist industry in both practical and ideological terms.

 Watch Dr Paul Stock on "What Going on Holiday Says about Us”

In a LSE Research video, Dr Paul Stock looks at how the Grand Tour of the 17th, 18th and 19th century has helped to define holidaymaking today. He contends that the history of going on holiday reveals important things about us, not least the UK’s complicated relationship with Europe.

Career before LSE

Before I joined LSE, I was Lecturer in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Culture and Literature at Birkbeck, and Teaching Fellow in European Studies at UCL. I also held a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship in Intellectual History at LSE immediately prior to my permanent appointment.  I have taught widely in several disciplines and sub-fields, including cultural history, intellectual history, political history, political theory, literary studies, and visual culture.


Expertise Details

Intellectual and Cultural History; Long Eighteenth Century; Britain; Idea of Europe; Spatial History; History of Cartography; Travel and Tourism

Teaching & supervision

Dr Paul Stock usually teaches the following courses in the Department:

At undergraduate level:
HY118: Faith, Power and Revolution: Europe and the Wider World, c.1500-c.1800

HY120: Historical Approaches to the Modern World

HY323: Travel, Pleasure and Politics: The European Grand Tour 1670-1825

At postgraduate level:

HY469: Maps, History and Power: The Spaces and Cultures of the Past

 Watch Dr Paul Stock talk about his courses, how they are structured and how students can benefit from taking them in order to better understand the world we live in today.

Dr Stock also supervised the following PhD students:

 Recent PhD student(s)  Thesis title
 William Mitchell (2022) The Idea of Europe in Williamite Whig Thought & Politics, 1685-1705




Europe and the British Geographical Imagination, 1760-1830 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019).

The Uses of Space in Early Modern History, ed. (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015).

The Shelley-Byron Circle and the Idea of Europe (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010).

Journal articles

        • 'The Idea of Asia in British Geographical Thought, 1652-1832', Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, vol. 1 (7th series) (2023): 121-44.

        • 'How Should Historians Talk About Spatial Agency?', Historical Reflections/Réflexions Historiques, vol. 48, no. 1 (2022): 1-22.

• ‘Towards a Language of “Europe”: History, Rhetoric, Community’, The European Legacy: Towards New Paradigms, vol. 22, no. 6 (2017): 647-66.

'America and the American Revolution in British Geographical Thought, c.1760-1830', The English Historical Review, vol. 131, no. 548 (2016): 64-91.

‘The Real-and-Imagined Spaces of Philhellenic Travel’, European Review of History – Revue européenne d’histoire, vol. 20, no. 4 (2013): 523-37.

'Almost a Separate Race': Racial Thought and the Idea of Europe in British Encyclopaedias and Histories, 1771-1830', Modern Intellectual History 8, no. 1 (2011): 3-29.

'Liberty and Independence:  The Shelley-Byron Circle and the State(s) of Europe', Romanticism 15, no. 2 (2009):  121-30.

'The Shelleys and the Idea of Europe', European Romantic Review 19, no. 4 (2008): 335-349.

'Imposing on Napoleon: Romantic Appropriation of Bonaparte', Journal of European Studies 34, no. 4 (2006): 363-388.

Book chapters

‘What is Europe?  Place, Idea, Action’, in Ash Amin and Philip Lewis, eds., European Union and Disunion:  Reflections on European Identity (London:  British Academy, 2017), pp. 23-28.

‘Histories of Geography’, in Paul Hamilton, ed., The Oxford Handbook of European Romanticism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), 644-59.

'Introduction: History and the Uses of Space', in The Uses of Space in Early Modern History, ed. Paul Stock (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015)

Review essays

'Lost Treasures of Strawberry Hill:  Masterpieces from Horace Walpole's Collection', Criticks:  The reviews website of British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (25 November 2018).

'Europe 1600-1815, Victoria and Albert Museum Galleries', Criticks, the reviews website of the British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (01 Aug 2016)

'Samuel Pepys: Plague, Fire, Revolution', Criticks: the reviews website of British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (11 Jan 2016)

‘Benjamin Schmidt, Inventing Exoticism: Geography, Globalism and Europe's Early Modern World’, Journal of Global History, 11, no 1 (2016).

'Review Essay: Georgian Britain: Modernity and the Middle Classes', Eighteenth-Century Life, 39 no. 3: 112-15 (2015).

'Ships, clocks and stars: the quest for longitude',Criticks: the reviews website of British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (21 Aug 2014)

'Diverse maniere: Piranesi, fantasy and excess',Criticks: the reviews website of British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (28 Apr 2014)

'Tourist Treasures: Plunder and Collection on the Grand Tour’, Eighteenth-Century Studies, 46, no 2 (2013): 323-326 , 46, no 2 (2013): 323-326

'The Shelleys on Display: Exhibiting Lives and Letters', Eighteenth-Century Studies, 45, no 1 (2011): 177-80.

'Iain Chambers, Mediterranean Crossings: the Politics of an Uninterrupted Modernity (Duke University Press, 2008)', Ethnic and Racial Studies 32, no. 4 (2009): 739-753.

Many of these publications are available to download for free via the above links.


News & media


New article in the Transactions of the Royal Historical Society journal

Paul Stock's new article, 'The Idea of Asia in British Geographical Thought, 1652–1832' has been published in the journal Transactions of the Royal Historical Society. The article explores how ordinary literate people understood Asian peoples and places from the mid-seventeenth century to the early nineteenth century. It is available to download for free from the publisher's website.



Dr Paul Stock on Spatial Agency

What does space do? Can we speak of space as having agency? Dr Stock's new article in Historical Reflections/Réflexions Historiques uses insights from material culture studies and actor-network theory to discuss ways of re-framing agency as an assemblage of human and non-human affect.


Britain's place in Europe

Controversy about Britain’s place in Europe has dominated British politics for the last several decades. But the concerns and passions of the present day are not new; in fact, these debates have been present in British popular culture for a very long time. Read Dr Paul Stock's piece for the LSE Politics blog, based on the findings of his latest book. He discusses how debates about Europe in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century hinge on topics which are still recognizable. Read here


New book

Europe and the British Geographical Imagination, 1760-1830 was released by Oxford University Press in early October. In his new book, Dr Stock provides a thorough and much-needed historical analysis of Britain’s enduringly complex intellectual relationship with Europe. He traces the history of ideas in non-elite contexts to discern widespread British attitudes to Europe, and not just the views of a few familiar prominent intellectuals.


Cited in The Guardian

“Global tourism hits record highs – but who goes where on holiday?”, a 1 July article written by our student Molly Blackall (3rd year BSc IR and History) on the rise of tourism and where the world’s 1.4 billion international travellers go on vacation, utilises Dr Stock’s LSE Research video “Why People Go on Holiday” as part of a section outlining the history of tourism in brief. Read the full article here.


Review of Horace Walpole exhibition

Dr Paul Stock reviewed the "Lost Treasures of Strawberry Hill: Masterpieces from Horace Walpole’s Collection" in Criticks: The Reviews Website of the British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (25 November). Although Dr Stock finds that significant presentational problems make the displays and their contexts less than fully comprehensible to visitors, the exhibition offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for enthusiasts of eighteenth-century culture. Find out why.


Two new publications on the Concept of Europe

Dr Paul Stock’s new chapter, "What is Europe?  Place, Idea, Action", was published in May in Ash Amin and Philip Lewis’s edited volume, European Union and Disunion: Reflections on European Identity (British Academy, 2017). In “What is Europe?", Dr Stock looks at "Europe" as a “concept fashioned by humans, established and reinvented according to historically specific belief systems and ideological principles.” The chapter was first presented at the British Academy conference, "European Union and Disunion: What Has Held Europeans Together and What is Dividing Them?", which took place in November 2016. Another article by Dr Stock on a similar topic was also published online around the same time in The European Legacy: Towards New Paradigms. The article entitled, "Towards a Language of 'Europe': History, Rhetoric, Community", addresses the difficulty of understanding “Europe” as a concept or form of identity when language and nationality are considered the foundation of imagined communities and loyalties. LSE users can read the article for free.


Dr Paul Stock on "What is Europe?" at British Academy Conference "Europen Union and Disunion"

On 4 November, Dr Stock gave a talk at the British Academy conference, "European Union and Disunion: What Has Held Europeans Together and What is Dividing Them?". The conference explored some of the drawn-out narratives and sentiments that at different times have aided or compromised the imagining and workings of Europe. It also engaged with and unpacked some of the constitutive stories of identity and meaning that in the past and present have helped to bring together and divide Europeans. The speakers included, among others, Professor Linda Colley (Princeton University), Professor Sir Ian Kershaw (University of Sheffield), Dr Kylie Murray (University of Cambridge), Baroness O’Neill of Bengarve (University of Cambridge), Professor Dame Helen Wallace (The British Academy) and Professor Patrick Wright (King’s College London). Dr Paul Stock addressed the question, “What is Europe? Place, Idea, Action”.


Watch Dr Stock's talk


Event: "Britain and Europe: Culture, Country or Continent?"

On 15 June 2016, Dr Paul Stock took part in a panel discussion hosted by the Legatum Institute's 'Roads to Freedom' Series on "Britain and Europe: Culture, Country or Continent?" Ahead of the UK’s forthcoming EU Referendum, the panel analysed Britain's relationship with continental Europe in the context of a thousand years of history. Other speakers included, Patricia Clavin, Professor of International History, University of Oxford; Sir Simon Mayall, Senior Advisor, Greenhill and Co; Legatum Fellow and Brendan Simms, Professor of the History of International Relations, University of Cambridge. The discussion was moderated by Hywel Williams, Senior Adviser, Legatum Institute.


Watch the video interview