Austen Van Burns


Hi! I’m a PhD student in the Department of History, and I study the history of the human sciences. I’m interested in how people have chosen to define humanity, particularly the relative weight given to religious, philosophical, and scientific criteria. I spend a lot of time poking around in the nineteenth century pre-histories of anthropology and psychology.  

When I can, I switch from reading history books to reading Agatha Christie mysteries, and I also love a good nineteenth-century novel. I grew up in Utah, and I maintain a fondness for walking and hiking – although I’ve yet to find any real mountains on the east coast. 

I got my BA in Classics at Swarthmore College, and I was lucky enough to work on two archaeological digs in Italy and Spain. After I graduated, I taught English in Germany on a Fulbright grant and then worked in the tech industry (at Google) for two years. I’m happy to share my experiences both inside and outside of academia!