Eric Ash

Faculty Profile


Secondary Title

Director of Graduate Studies






3094 Faculty/Administration Building


Eric Ash was born and raised in upstate New York; he has taught at Wayne State since the fall of 2002 and is the current Director of Graduate Studies. His teaching & research interests broadly include the history of Britain, early modern Europe, the history of science & technology, and environmental history. Dr. Ash is married, and has two children; in his spare time he enjoys Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers baseball, cooking, and the blues.

Selected Publications


  • The Draining of the Fens: Projectors, Popular Politics, and State Building in Early Modern England (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017).
  • Power, Knowledge, and Expertise in Elizabethan Engaland (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004).

Articles & Chapters:

  • “Reclaiming a New World: Fen Drainage, Improvement, and Projectors in Seventeenth-Century England,” Early Science and Medicine 21 (2016): 445-69.
  • “Expertise and the Early Modern State,” Osiris 25 (2010): 1-24.
  • “Amending Nature: Draining the English Fens,” in The Mindful Hand: Inquiry and Invention from the Late Renaissance to Early Industrialisation, ed. Lissa Roberts, Simon Schaffer, and Peter Dear (Edita and University of Chicago Press, 2007), 117-143.
  • “Navigation Techniques and Practice in the Renaissance,” in The History of Cartography, vol. 3,Cartography in the European Renaissance, ed. by David Woodward (University of Chicago Press, 2007), 509-527.
  • “Trading Expertise: Sebastian Cabot between Spain and England” (co-authored with Alison Sandman), Renaissance Quarterly 57 (2004): 813-846.
  • “‘A note and a Caveat for the Merchant’: Mercantile Advisors in Elizabethan England,” The Sixteenth Century Journal 33 (2002): 1-31.
  • “Queen v. Northumberland, and the Control of Technical Expertise,” History of Science 39 (2001): 215-240.
  • “‘A perfect and an absolute work’: Expertise, Authority, and the Rebuilding of Dover Harbor, 1579-1583,” Technology and Culture 41 (2000): 239-268.


Courses taught

  • HIS 5550, "Britain: 1485-1714," 4 credits, fall 2016
  • HIS 5555, "Britain in the Age of Empire," 4 credits, winter 2017

Research Description

My main research areas are in British history, and the history of science and technology. I focus on the early modern period (16th-17th centuries), and I have been most interested in the notion of expertise--what it means to be an expert in early modern Europe, and the role that experts played in the formation of early modern states and empires. My current book project is on land reclamation in 17th-century England, and so I have also developed an interest in environmental history.

Affiliated Departments