I focus on the various sciences of the stars in pre-modern Europe. In particular, I study how and why scientific experts made their knowledge useful to political leaders.
I teach courses at all levels of the curriculum, from introductory surveys to senior seminars. My seminars often explore particular, timely topics, e.g., next year’s seminar on extreme weather in pre-modern Europe.
What is the History of Science?
The history of science investigates the creation of scientific knowledge and seeks to understand: Why people have bothered to investigate the natural world. How they have conducted that investigation. What they have learned through that investigation. And to what use they have put this newly created knowledge.
My research examines this nexus of questions in the context of Early Modern Europe, Central Europe, and the late Byzantine Empire. I study the concrete social practices by which certain systems of knowledge about the natural world become authoritative and scientific. I study how knowledge was inscribed in instruments, collected, displayed, and deployed by institutions, and aligned with political and social agendas. My work reveals how and why patrons of scientific knowledge sought, identified, and supported particular knowledge practices, and how their support advanced certain systems of knowledge and modes of innovation.
More about me and my work
I am associate professor of the history of science and Chair of the History Department at Haverford College. Have a question? Email me.
The Crown and the Cosmos
My book The Crown and the Cosmos. Astrology & the Politics of Maximilian I uncovers the fascinating history of science as political instrument.
Various articles on the history of the French Disease (syphilis), Renaissance astrology, and medieval courts.