Sophie J. FitzMaurice

PhD Candidate

North American History


My dissertation is an environmental history of the telegraph in the nineteenth-century US empire, from roughly the US-Mexico War (1846-1848) to the Spanish-American War (1898). My project demonstrates the multitude of ways in which the non-human world intruded upon the supposedly space-annihilating telegraph, and explores the implications of the telegraph's materiality for the projection and expansion of state power both within and beyond the contiguous United States. 


Research Interests

  • US empire
  • Environmental history
  • Animal history

Education

PhD in History, University of California, Berkeley, projected 2022.

MA in History, University of California, Berkeley, 2017.

MPhil in Historical Studies, University of Cambridge, 2013.

BA in Modern History, University of Oxford, 2012. 


Selected Fellowships & Awards

George H. Guttridge Prize for Excellence in US History, University of California, Berkeley (2020)

John L. Simpson Memorial Fellowship, Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley (2017-2018)

Leo Lowenthal Memorial Prize, University of California, Berkeley (2017)

History Graduate Seminar Paper Prize, University of California, Berkeley (2016)

Tinker Foundation Field Research Grant, Berkeley Center for Latin American Studies (2016)

Pre-Dissertation Research Grant, Institute of International Studies, University of California, Berkeley (2015)

Outstanding GSI Award, University of California, Berkeley (2015)

National Science Foundation Travel Grant, National Science Foundation/ASEH (2015)

Morrison Fellowship, University of California, Berkeley (2014-2017)

A. Bartlett Giamatti Fellowship (declined), Yale University (2014)

Anderson Fund Research Grant, Society for Nautical Research (2014)

Arts and Humanities Research Council Studentship, UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (2013-2014)

Christopher Bushell Prize for Best History Thesis, Corpus Christi College, University of Oxford (2012)

Sidgwick Prize for Undergraduate Excellence, Corpus Christi College, University of Oxford (2011)

Exhibition in History, Corpus Christi College, University of Oxford (2010-2011)


Selected Publications & Presentations

"Wood Scarcity, Intergroup Conflict, and Technological Transfer in the Great Basin, 1840s-1850s," Society for the History of the Early American Republic (2021, forthcoming).

“Animals and the Industrial Revolution,” guest lecture for Global 45: Survey of World History, University of California, Berkeley (2021).

“Lines in the Desert: Communications Infrastructure and the Bighorn Sheep,” Ninth International Conference on the Constructed Environment, Guimarães, Portugal (2019).

“The Ecological Indian,” guest lecture for ESPM 50AC: Introduction to Culture and Natural Resource Management, University of California, Berkeley (2018).

“Inventing the Indian,” guest lecture for ESPM 50AC: Introduction to Culture and Natural Resource Management, University of California, Berkeley (2018).

“Telegraphy and Mass Communication in Antebellum America,” guest lecture for History 122AC: Antebellum America: The Advent of Mass Society, University of California, Berkeley (2017).

“Technologies of the Sea: Contesting Sovereignty over the Water in the Nineteenth Century Caribbean,” Tinker Foundation Field Research Symposium, University of California, Berkeley (2016).

“Arctic Expansion and the U.S. Marine Economy, circa 1850–1900,” American Society for Environmental History Annual Conference, Washington DC (2015).

“Over Land or Under Water: A Material History of the Telegraph, 1861–1898,” Environmental Science and History Working Group, University of California, Berkeley (2015).

“Whaleship Diplomacy in the Nineteenth Century Pacific and North Atlantic,” Cambridge University-Sciences Po History Graduate Symposium, Clare College, Cambridge (2014).

“Exploitation and Expansion: Yankee Whalers in the Nineteenth Century North Atlantic,” American History Workshop, Clare College, Cambridge (2014).