Associate Professor of the History of Science
A.B. Magna cum laude, Chemistry and History, Bryn Mawr College, 1991
Ph.D., History of Science, Medicine and Technology, The Johns Hopkins University, 2001
My main research fields are early modern science and medicine and Reformation history. Within the history of medicine I have particular interests in the history of the body, gender and sexuality. I am also interested in a history of medicine written from the point of view of patients rather than practitioners. Within the history of science I focus on the period known as the "Scientific Revolution" and on the relationship between science and religion. I have been particularly inspired by the work of scholars such as Edgar Zilsel, Paolo Rossi, Pamela Long and Pamela Smith who argue for the vital contribution of artisans and empirics to the Scientific Revolution. This kind of history of science "from below" dovetails with my interest in the history of medicine "from below", or from the patients' perspective. The idea that natural knowledge was important and interesting to a range of people outside an educated academic elite informs my work.
I also specialize in the Lutheran Reformation. Within the field of Reformation studies, I have a particular interest in women and gender. Just as my interest in the history of medicine and science includes attention to the ways in which a variety of social groups understood the body, disease and the natural world, so too my work in Reformation history includes attention to the ideas and beliefs of a broad variety of people. I am interested in understanding the impact of the Reformation at the levels of theological debates, political and legal changes and the lived experience of ordinary people.
My first book, Adam and Eve in the Protestant Reformation, knits these admittedly rather diverse research interests together. In it I explore the meanings and uses of the story of Adam and Eve in Reformation Germany. The story of Adam and Eve was appealing to 16th-century Germans because it provided a vehicle for defining and articulating the relationship between men and women, between human beings and God, between human beings and the natural world, and between body and soul. These interrelated issues were of particular and pressing importance to people living in an age of intense religious conflict. Questions about marriage and family life, about the proper way of approaching God, and the best way to live in this world while looking to the next were hotly debated. I have two subsequent book projects planned. The first is on biblical interpretation and natural knowledge between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. The second is an investigation of vice, virtue and social ethics in Protestant culture. In addition, I have an ongoing interest in the role of images in the production and dissemination of natural knowledge. I have co-written an article with Peter Barker on images in late medieval and early modern astronomical texts that is forthcoming in Isis.