Richard’s research interests focus on the history of the humanities and human sciences in 18th- and 19th-century Europe. His work focuses on how ideas make and are made by social and political institutions. Broadly speaking, he wants to better understand the historical formation of the habits of mind and body that make experience meaningful.
Richard’s dissertation, “History in Mind: Neo-Humanism and the Historicist Psyche,” tells the story of the entanglements of psychology and historicism in 19th-century Germany and Austria. Richard challenges teleological accounts of the history of psychology that presage the emergence of laboratory psychology at the end of the 19th century. He looks at psychology’s emergence and development in the 19th century as an auxiliary discipline (Hilfsfach) in German universities, and he considers how, as an aid to other fields, psychology was put to use. Focusing on the largest school of psychology that developed in this period and setting it in the prevailing neo-humanist intellectual culture of its time, “History in Mind” explores how the historicist conception of personal identity at the heart of this school of psychology was used to animate changes in the practice of pedagogy, law, and economics. Psychology provided the tools to understand and manage the issues posed by historical existence, promising to both make and make sense of bourgeois German culture.
Richard came to Princeton in 2014 after completing an M.A. in History at McGill University, where he previously earned a B.A. with first-class honours in History and Art History in 2012. He completed his general examinations at Princeton in 2016 with a major field in Modern Science (Michael Gordin) and minor fields in 18th-Century Western Europe (David Bell) and Theories and Practices of Historical Understanding (Anthony Grafton). Richard is a fellow of the Princeton Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in the Humanities. His research has been published in the British Journal for the History of Science (2015). His doctoral candidacy has been supported by the Social Sciences Research Council and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. In a previous life, Richard co-wrote an award-winning, feature-length documentary.