Sean Silver in light purple dress shirt

Sean Silver

Doan Senior Fellow

Sean Silver is associate professor of 18th-century British literature and science at Rutgers University. He has held positions at UCLA, the University of Michigan, and Universität Basel. His first book, The Mind Is a Collection, is the exhibit catalog of a born-digital museum of 18th-century cognitive models.

Sean’s current research places a single sheet of marbled paper in its widest possible aesthetic and imperial context, beginning with a faithful reconstruction of that leaf in Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy (1760), but tracing each of its component skills and reagents to a different corner of the glittering but ruinous British empire. Some discussion of technical aspects of this project is available at While in residence in Summer 2023, he studied the modernization of commercial chemistry in 18th-century Britain, especially as the emerging empire prompted innovations in the commercial design arts.