Karl Appuhn

Associate Professor of History, Italian; Director, Medieval and Renaissance Center

Northwestern University, PhD 1999

Office Address: 

King Juan Carlos Center, Room 411



Field of Study: 

Early Modern Europe

Research Interests: 

Environmental History, History of Science, Technology, and Medicine, History of Animals, Mediterranean History, Italian Renaissance.


Karl Appuhn’s research examines the relationship between humans and non-human nature in early modern Italy. He is most interested in the ways that technical and scientific expertise helped individuals and institutions make sense of the connections between society and nature. He has written about forest and water management in Renaissance Venice, and is currently working on a history of veterinary medicine in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Italy, which examines the connection between widespread zoonotic diseases (especially bovine diseases), changes in the Italian diet, and the establishment of veterinary medicine as an academic discipline at the University of Padua. He is also writing a general environmental history of early modern Europe.

His book, A Forest on the Sea won the American Historical Association’s Herbert Baxter Adams Prize for best first book in European history, as well as the Weyerhaeuser Prize for best book in conservation history and the Delmas Prize for best book in Venetian studies. He also won the ASEH’s Hamilton Prize for best article in the field of environmental history in 2000. He is the recipient of fellowships from Fulbright, ACLS, the Columbia Society of Fellows in the Humanities, the American Academy in Rome, the Institute for Advanced Study, and the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation.

He teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in Italian history, environmental history, the history of science and medicine, the history of animals, and Mediterranean history. He has worked closely with graduate students in early modern and modern European history, Atlantic World, Latin American history, African history, U.S. history, the joint MEIS and HJS programs, and the Italian Studies department.

Selected Works:


ForestAndSeaBOOK.jpgA Forest on the Sea: Environmental Expertise in Renaissance Venice  (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009).
    * Herbert Baxter Adams Prize (American Historical Association)
    * Charles Weyerhaeuser Prize (Forest History Society)
    * Gladys Krieble Delmas Prize (Renaissance Society of America)


“Ecologies of Beef: Eighteenth-Century Epizootics and the Environmental History of Early Modern Europe,” Environmental History 268-87 (2010). 

“Friend or Flood? The Dilemmas of Flood Control in Late Renaissance Venice,” in The Nature of Cities: New Approaches to Urban Environmental History, ed. Andrew Isenberg (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2006) 79-102. 

“Tools for the Development of the European Economy,” in A Companion to the History of the Renaissance World, ed. Guido Ruggiero (London: Blackwell, 2002) 259-78. 

“Politics, Perception, and the Meaning of Landscape in Late Medieval Venice: Marco Cornaro’s 1442 Inspection of Firewood Supplies,” in Inventing Medieval Landscapes: Senses of Place in Western Europe, eds. John Howe and Michael Wolfe (Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2002) 70-88. 

“Inventing Nature: Forests, Forestry, and State Power in Renaissance Venice,” The Journal of Modern History 851-89 (2000).

     *Alice Hamilton Prize (American Society for Enironmental History)

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Updated on 11/10/2016