University of Wisconsin–Madison

Maura Capps

Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow / History 229

Office: University Club 326
Office Hours: Mondays 11:00-12:00. Wednesdays 11:00-12:00, or by appointment

Maura Capps


I am an environmental historian of Britain and the British Empire currently working on my first book, All Flesh Is Grass: An Eco-Agrarian History of Britain’s Settler Empire. The book highlights the interplay between Enlightenment-era agricultural improvement and ecological imperialism in late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth century colonies of settlement–New South Wales (Australia), Cape Colony (South Africa), and New Zealand–by examining the transfer and trajectory of European fodder crops (e.g. clover, meadow foxtail, lucerne/alfalfa) in these colonies. By exploring both the figurative and literal grassroots of imperial expansion, my work connects the economic anxieties, scientific aspirations, ideological tensions, and political maneuverings of British elites in the Colonial Office with the “groundwork” of agricultural settlement in these new colonies and the microscopic, but singularly important, process whereby nutrients cycle through the roots of plants and guts of animals.

I have a broad thematic range of teaching and research interests in environmental history, history of science, agricultural history, food history, climate history, and history of colonialism, with particular interests in early modern and modern Europe (including Britain); colonial and postcolonial sub-Saharan Africa and Australasia; and the Atlantic and Indian Ocean Worlds in the long nineteenth century.


Ph.D., University of Chicago, History 2016

M.A., University of Chicago, History 2010

B.A., Bard College 2006

Select Publications

Select Awards

  • Mellon Dissertation Completion Fellow, American Council of Learned Societies, 2015-16
  • International Dissertation Research Fellow, Social Sciences Research Council, 2013-14
  • Graduate Research Fellowship, The Nicholson Center for British Studies, 2013

History Courses

  • History 229 – Feast and Famine: Global Histories of Food