Doctor Sarah Irving-Stonebraker

Doctor Sarah Irving-Stonebraker

Senior Lecturer in Modern European History,
Humanities (Arts)


Dr. Sarah Irving-Stonebraker is Senior Lecturer in Modern European History, and teaches in the History and Political Thought major. She was awarded her PhD in History from Cambridge University (2007), where she was a Commonwealth Scholar at King’s College. She took her BA with First Class Honours and the University Medal from the University of Sydney in 2003. 

Her first book was awarded The Royal Society of Literature and Jerwood Foundation Award for Non-fiction. Entitled Natural Science and the Origins of the British Empire (London: Routledge: 2008), the book investigates the way that England’s colonial empire became tied to the Protestant redemptive project of restoring humanity's original dominion over nature.  In 2016, Routledge re-issued the book in paperback.

Before joining U.W.S, Dr. Irving-Stonebraker was a Junior Research Fellow at Wolfson College, Oxford University, and then Assistant Professor at Florida State University.

To read her publications, see the page: 

This information has been contributed by Doctor Irving-Stonebraker.


  • PhD University of Cambridge (UK)
  • BA Hons University of Sydney


  • Royal Society of Literature and Jerwood Foundation Prize for Non-Fiction 2006-09-21
  • Stephen Risley Fellowship for Most Promising Junior Faculty Member, Florida State University 2011-09-22
  • Junior Research Fellowship, Oxford University (Wolfson College) 2006-08-15
  • Norman McCann Fellowship, National Library of Australia 2003-01-01
  • FYAP Research Grant, Florida State University 2009-06-01
  • COFRS Research Grant, Florida State University 2010-06-01


  • Global History
  • History of Britain and her Empire
  • History of Political Thought
  • History of Religion
  • History of Science
  • History of the Atlantic World
  • Intellectual History

Organisational Unit (School / Division)

  • Humanities (Arts)


  • Governing Body of Wolfson College, Oxford
  • Religion Department, Florida State University
  • University Work Load Committee, University of Western Sydney
  • Academic Committee, Wolfson College, Oxford University



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Previous Teaching Areas

  • 100861 Empire: European Colonial Rule and its Subjects, 1750-1920, 2012
  • 100873 Inventing Modernity, 2012
  • 101992 Religion and the Emergence of Modern Politics, 2013
  • 102002 Religion and the Origins of Modern Science, 2013



  • Irving, S. (2016), 'Natural Science and the Origins of the British Empire', : Routledge 9781851968893.
  • Irving, S. (2008), 'Natural Science and the Origins of the British Empire', : Pickering and Chatto 9781851968893.

Chapters in Books

  • Irving, S. (2019), 'The surprising lineage of useful knowledge', Politics, Religion and Ideas in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Britain: Essays in Honour of Mark Goldie, The Boydell Press 9781783274505.
  • Irving, S. (2007), 'An Empire restored : America and the Royal Society of London in the Restoration', America in the British Imagination, Cambridge Scholars Publishing 1847181694.

Journal Articles

  • Irving-Stonebraker, S. (2022), '"Sworn to no master" : the intellectual traditions of liberty of conscience in colonial New South Wales to 1856', Australian Journal of Politics and History, vol 68, no 1 , pp 4 - 17.
  • Irving-Stonebraker, S. (2021), 'The forgotten history of religious liberty : Richard Johnson Lecture, 2020', Journal of Religious History, vol 45, no 4 , pp 644 - 658.
  • Irving-Stonebraker, S. (2021), 'Catholic emancipation and the idea of religious liberty in 1830s New South Wales', Australian Journal of Politics and History, vol 67, no 2 , pp 193 - 207.
  • Irving, S. (2020), 'Comparative history and ethnography in William Ellis's Polynesian Researches', Journal of Pacific History, vol 55, no 1 , pp 1 - 17.
  • Irving, S. (2020), 'Enlightenment ethnography on the global periphery : the case of the Duff missionary voyage to the South Pacific, 1796-1798', Eighteenth-Century Studies, vol 53, no 4 , pp 629 - 646.
  • Irving, S. (2019), '"Redeemed from savagery" : sanctification and civilization in the accounts of Cook Islands missionaries Aaron Buzacott and John Williams', Missiology: An International Review, vol 47, no 3 , pp 226 - 239.
  • Irving, S. (2019), 'From Eden to savagery and civilization : British colonialism and humanity in the development of natural history, ca. 1600-1840', History of the Human Sciences, vol 32, no 4 , pp 63 - 79.
  • Irving, S. (2018), 'From Little Gidding to Virginia : the seventeenth century Ferrar family in the Atlantic colonial context', The Seventeenth Century, vol 33, no 2 , pp 183 - 194.
  • Irving, S. (2018), 'Theology, idolatry and science : John Williams' missionary ethnography and natural history of the South Pacific', Journal of Religious History, vol 42, no 3 , pp 343 - 358.
  • Irving, S. (2017), 'Nature, knowledge and civilisation : connecting the Atlantic and Pacific worlds in the Enlightenment', Itinerario, vol 41, no 1 , pp 93 - 107.
  • Irving, S. (2017), 'Disease and civilization : a Scottish Atlantic network of physicians in the Enlightenment', Britain and the World, vol 10, no 2 , pp 197 - 216.
  • Irving, S. (2017), '"The sagacity of the Indians" : William Dampier's surprising respect for indigenous knowledge', Journal of Early Modern History, vol 21 , pp 543 - 564.
  • Stonebraker, J. and Irving, S. (2015), 'Natural law and Protestantism : a historical reassessment, and its contemporary significance', Oxford Journal of Law and Religion, vol 4, no 3 , pp 421 - 441.
  • Irving, S. (2015), 'Beyond dominion and stewardship : humanity and nature in Puritan theology', American Theological Inquiry, vol 8, no 1 , pp 49 - 59.
  • Irving, S. (2014), 'Public knowledge, natural philosophy, and the eighteenth-century Republic of Letters', Early American Literature, vol 49, no 1 , pp 67 - 88.
  • Irving, S. (2014), 'Governing nature : the problem of Northern Australia', Australian Historical Studies, vol 45, no 3 , pp 388 - 406.
  • Stonebraker, J. and Irving, S. (2014), 'The just war tradition reconsidered : Protestantism and international law', Oxford Journal of Law and Religion, vol 3, no 3 , pp 373 - 392.
  • Irving, S. (2013), 'Rethinking corruption : natural knowledge and the New World in Joseph Hall's 'Mundus alter et idem'', Journal of Early Modern Studies, vol 2, no 2 , pp 150 - 168.
  • Irving, S. (2012), 'Rethinking instrumentality : natural philosophy and Christian charity in the early modern Atlantic world', HOPOS : the Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science, vol 2 , pp 55 - 76.
  • Irving, S. and et al, .. (2010), 'The history of Atlantic science : collective reflections from the 2009 Harvard seminar on Atlantic history', Atlantic Studies, vol 7, no 4 , pp 397 - 419.
  • Irving, S. (2006), ''In a pure soil': Colonial anxieties in the work of Francis Bacon', History of European Ideas, vol 32, no 3 , pp 249 - 262.

Conference Papers

  • Irving, S. (2009), 'America, Christian charity and the origins of modern science', International Seminar on the History of the Atlantic World, Harvard University.

Other Publications

  • 2021, '[(Hon) John Anderson] Conversations: With Mark Sneddon and Dr. Sarah Irving-Stonebraker', Recorded Work
  • 2020, 'Free to Be Me? The Forgotten Story of Religious Liberty - The 2020 Richard Johnson Lecture', Recorded Work

Broadly construed, my research explores the relationship between theological and scientific ideas in the Anglophone Atlantic and Pacific worlds from the seventeenth to the nineteenth-centuries.

In addition to my book Natural Science and the Origins of the British Empire (Routledge; 2008; 2016), my research has appeared in over 16 different scholarly journals, including The Oxford Journal of Law and Religion; Journal of Early Modern History; History of the Human Sciences; The Seventeenth Century; Atlantic Studies; Itinerario; History of European Ideas; History of Philosophy of Science, and Early American Literature, among others

I have two current research projects. The first explores the way that theological concepts informed 18th and 19th century Pacific missionaries’ observations of the traditions, manners and functioning of human societies. My research argues that these theological concepts were transmitted, under a new secular guise, into the nascent science of ethnography. My second research project is a history of religious liberty in the Anglophone world from the 17th to the 20th centuries.

This information has been contributed by Doctor Irving-Stonebraker.


Previous Supervision

Thesis Title: John Bull's Two Legs: The Influence of India on British Liberal Thought, 1820-1860
Field of Research: Human Welfare Studies And Services
Thesis Title: The Ecclesiology of Donald Robinson and David Broughton Knox: A Presentation, Analysis and Theological Evaluation of Their Thought on the Nature of the Church
Field of Research: Philosophy And Religious Studies
Thesis Title: Gurindiji People and Aboriginal Self-Determination Policy, 1973-1986
Field of Research: Policy Studies; Anthropology; History


Title: The History of Religious Liberty- Conversation with Hon. John Anderson and Mark Sneddon
Description: Conversations with John Anderson
Title: The Richard Johnson Lecture, 2020
Description: The Richard Johnson Lecture, 2020
Title: They topped the HSC, what are they doing now?
Description: Sydney Morning Herald
Title: ABC News- What Happened to HSC high achievers?
Description: ABC News

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