Alexandra Ortolja-Baird

Post-Doctoral Research Assistant

Department: Prints and Drawings


+44 (0)20 7323 8446

Alexandra Ortolja-Baird is a post-doctoral researcher on the Leverhulme Trust funded research project “Enlightenment Architectures: Sir Hans Sloane’s catalogues of his collections”. This project seeks to understand the intellectual structures of Sloane’s manuscript catalogues and with them the origins of the Enlightenment disciplines and information management practices they helped to shape. Alexandra is working closely with another post-doctoral researcher, Victoria Pickering, senior researcher Dr Martha Fleming, as well as the Principle Investigator Dr Kim Sloan (Curator of British Drawings and Watercolours before 1880 and the Francis Finlay Curator of the Enlightenment Gallery in the Department of Prints and Drawings) and the Co-Investigator Dr Julianne Nyhan, from Digital Humanities at UCL. The project examines Sloane’s catalogues to reveal the way he and his contemporaries collected, organized and classified the world, through their descriptions, cross-references and codes.

Alexandra joined the project after undertaking her PhD in History at the European University Institute, Florence 2017. Her thesis “Where philosophy meets bureaucracy: Cesare Beccaria’s social contract from page to practice” focused on the philosophical and administrative writings of the eighteenth-century Italian philosopher Cesare Beccaria and her research specialities are in the Italian Enlightenment, the Republic of Letters and Enlightenment political philosophy. Her wider research intersects intellectual history, history of science, cultural history and the history of the book and she is interested in the ways in which digital history can complement and augment these disciplines.


Current projects

Enlightenment Architectures: Sir Hans Sloane’s catalogues of his collections