Brian E. and Sandra O'Brien Presidential Professor, Emeritus
Department of the History of Science
B.A., History, Stanford University, 1974
B.S., Mathematics, Stanford University, 1974
M.A., History, University of California, Los Angeles, 1977
Ph.D., History, University of California, Los Angeles, 1982
My research focuses on the formation of scientific disciplines and discussions of the nature of science in the middle ages. To that end, I have also investigated the pedagogical practices of late-medieval universities and the tendency to revise texts, especially commentaries on Aristotle and theological works like commentaries on Peter Lombard’s Sentences. My first book assessed these issues in the Sentences commentary by the fourteenth-century Franciscan, John of Reading, while my second focused on commentaries on the Posterior Analytics and the Sentences written by the fifteenth-century Dominican, Antonius de Carlenis. An article on the content of a manuscript in the medieval library of the Benedictine monastery of Saint-Bertin, now Saint-Omer, Bibliothèque de l’agglomération, MS 504, appeared recently in Portraits de Maîtres offerts à Olga Weijers. Most of the codex contains the commentary on the Sentences written by Pierre d’Allouagne in 1338-1340, but the volume also includes several academic exercises from the University of Paris around 1340. “Science in the Medieval Christian and Islamic Worlds,” co-authored with Sonja Brentjes (Max-Planck-Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte in Berlin) appeared in the Oxford Illustrated History of Science (2017). My current research project takes me back to the medieval library of Saint-Bertin, providing full descriptions of some 90 manuscripts and an introduction to the library’s history and development. Material from this project will be discussed later this year at McGill University (“Late-medieval pedagogy and the manuscript tradition”) and the Universität zu Köln / Thomas-Institut (“Monastic Library and University Classroom: the Scholar-Monks of Saint-Bertin”). I am also co-authoring, with Brent Purkaple, an article assessing a new manuscript of William of Ockham’s Brevis summa libri Physicorum (Saint-Omer, MS 317).
I have also been interested in creating electronic tools for scholars interested in the medieval scholastic tradition. For several years I have been compiling a bio- and bibliographical database of medieval commentators on Aristotle’s works and Peter Lombard’s Sentences, and I am also the 1330-1360 section chair for a project to revise and augment Friedrich Stegmüller’s Repertorium commentariorum in Sententias Petri Lombardi sponsored by the Société internationale pour l'étude de la philosophie médiévale.
My research has been supported by a number of grants and fellowships. I have received three Fulbright Research Fellowships: at Oxford University (1988-89), the Université de Paris I (Sorbonne) (2005-2006), and the Bibliothèque d’Agglomération de Saint-Omer (2014-2015). With funding from the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, I was Directeur de recherche associé at the Sorbonne in 1993-94. Other grants or fellowships have been awarded by the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship Program at St. Louis University, the American Philosophical Society, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Huntington Library and the Neil Ker Memorial Fellowship Program of the British Academy. I have also received $455,000 from the Rockefeller and Andrew W. Mellon Foundations in support of institutional pre- and postdoctoral fellowship programs at OU.