Knell, Simon J. 1955-

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KNELL, Simon J. 1955-

PERSONAL: Born December 29, 1955, in Colden Common, Hampshire, England; son of Joseph (a greengrocer) and Marjorie (a greengrocer; maiden name, Halkes) Knell; married Margaret Mahony, May 9, 1976; children: Callum, Ciaran. Education: University of Leeds, B.Sc., 1978; University of Manchester, M.Sc., 1980; University of Leicester, graduate certificate in museum studies, 1984; University of Keele, Ph.D., 1996.

ADDRESSES: Office—Department of Museum Studies, University of Leicester, 105 Princess Rd. E., Leicester LE1 7LG, England. E-mail—[email protected] uk.

CAREER: Leeds City Museum, Leeds, England, research assistant, 1980; Manchester Museum, Manchester, England, conservation assistant, 1981-82; Area Museums Council for South Eastern England, London, England, traveling geology curator, 1985-87; Scunthorpe Museum, Scunthorpe, England, keeper of natural science, 1987-92; University of Leicester, Leicester, England, member of museum studies faculty and department head, 1992—.

MEMBER: International Commission on the History of the Geological Sciences, Museums Association, Geological Curators Group, Biology Curators Group, History of Geology Group (committee member, 1997-2000).


(With Michael Taylor) Geology and the Local Museum, H.M.S.O., 1989.

(Editor) Care of Collections, Routledge (New York, NY), 1994.

(Editor) A Bibliography of Museum Studies, Scolar/Ashgate Publishing (Burlington, VT), 1994.

(Editor) Museums and the Future of Collecting, Ashgate Publishing (Burlington, VT), 1999.

The Culture of English Geology, 1815-1851: A Science Revealed through Its Collecting, Ashgate Publishing (Burlington, VT), 2000.

(Editor, with C. Lewis) The Age of the Earth: From 4004 B.C. to A.D. 2002, Geological Society (London, England), 2001.

Coauthor of a column in Local Geologist; contributor of articles and reviews to books; contributor to periodicals, including Geological Curator. Member of editorial board, Geology Today, 1990-2002.

WORK IN PROGRESS: A trans-European project examining the operation of communities of practice in natural history museums; research on material culture and collecting; historical research on Hugh Miller.

SIDELIGHTS: Simon J. Knell told CA: "I started writing the simple guide to geological curation while a student in the department in which I now teach. Soon afterwards I met Mike Taylor, who had similar thoughts and a similarly strange job, 'peripatetic curation,' and through collaboration that project grew to become Geology and the Local Museum. I am still writing with Mike today, and we continue to bounce ideas off each other via e-mail.

"In the 1970s and 1980s I became involved in a number of projects to rescue geological collections, partly inspired by Phil Doughty's report on the state and status of British geology collections. Phil's report gave me a sense of purpose which I have pursued ever since. I soon became active in the Geological Curators Group, and as a traveling geology curator in southeastern England I had a very privileged insight into the nature of these collections.

"Following much effort to get the situation improved and my return to Leicester to teach, I became increasingly interested in the intellectual, rather than the physical, restoration of these collections. I reacquainted myself with Hugh Torrens at Keele, one of the founders of the Geological Curators Group and a pioneer of histories of the little people of science, and asked him to supervise a doctoral degree aimed at understanding what these collections meant in the history of geology. I think Hugh thought I was being a little ambitious when he saw my huge list of research questions, but the doctorate was finished rapidly and the big book, The Culture of English Geology, 1815-1851: A Science Revealed through Its Collecting, followed. I soon took the method of that book and applied it to the late twentieth century. Since then these interests, and a move to teaching material culture, has led to my research diversifying and becoming increasingly focused on aspects of social practice which may make future literary productions slightly less geology-centered."



British Journal for the History of Science, December, 2001, Samuel J. M. M. Alberti, review of The Culture of English Geology, 1815-1851: A Science Revealed through Its Collecting, p. 471.

Isis, March, 2001, Dennis R. Dean, review of The Culture of English Geology, 1815-1851, p. 191.

Times Literary Supplement, May 4, 2001, Martin Rudwick, review of The Culture of English Geology, 1815-1851, p. 27.