John Martin Handel

Research Interests: 

I'm an historian of Modern Britain and its Empire. My dissertation project, provisionally entitled "Forms of Finance, Specters of Capital," looks at how Britons assembled a body of knowledge that attempted to tame, make legible, and realize, the speculative forms of finance capital that were taking off on a massive scale for the first time during the 19th century. My project covers the years between 1836, the beginnings of the first major railway bubble, to 1888, when the telephone is institutionalized on the London Stock Exchange ushering in a new age of simultaneity in trading. During this period, I focus on how, in an age without simultaneous communications, provincial stock exchanges faced an especially acute problem in situating themselves between local, national, and global demands both for pricing information and the mobilization of capital, and I track the various ways they attempted to respond to these demands, including the establishment of brokers associations, the creation of stock exchange buildings and physical infrastructure, and the creation of the stock price index and financial news page in the Victorian press. I also follow what was necessarily excluded from, but nevertheless underwrote, these forms of finance. Including, most prominently, the securitization of slaves in the American South by British banks and financial firms in London, the expansion of British banking into India, and the rush for Australian gold to pad British monetary reserves, all of which rested on imperial forms of violence and domination. My second project also concerns problems of knowledge in the 19th century, but in this case, it's religious knowledge. I'm interested in how, especially conservative religious groups like the Oxford Movement, responded to writing for an expanded audience of strangers, through abstracted mediums of print in the 19th century. I am currently revising an article on Victorian print culture and John Henry Newman's Tract 90.

Research Interests: 

Modern Britain and Its Empire

History of Finance/Capitalism



History and Theory

Digital Humanities