Dr. Jessica Otis
Class Location & Time: Wednesdays, 7:20-10pm, location TBD (we will start in our official Horizon 4001 room, but may move to Research Hall 4th floor after our first meeting)
Office Hours: Whenever/wherever, just send me an email and we’ll figure out a time/place

Course Description:

In 1996, Steven Shapin began his book on the scientific revolution by declaring: “There was no such thing as the Scientific Revolution, and this is a book about it.” Over the last several decades, research on the history of science has exploded earlier twentieth century notions about a seventeenth-century revolution in the sciences that focused especially on elite practitioners of astronomy, botany, mathematics, and physics and instead begun to reveal the sprawling, complex, and contested reality of early modern scientific practices. This reading course will explore developments in the history of science and knowledge in early modern Europe and the Americas through the lens of recent scholarship on everything from alchemy and cooking to engineering and navigation, to build a nuanced understanding of the scientific revolution(s) that occurred across the early modern era and throughout the Atlantic world.

Required Course Materials/Expenses:

I am working to ensure all of our course materials are available physically or online through GMU libraries by the start of the semester. Students may need to use a VPN to access certain materials if they are off-campus. Mode of access is included in square brackets after each item in the course schedule.

Students are expected to have a device that connects to the internet (laptop, mobile phone, etc.) for course communications and some in-class activities. If you don’t have and can’t obtain access to appropriate technology, please contact me ASAP and we’ll find a path forward for you.

Optional Course Materials/Expenses:

For those of you who want to purchase any of our course books in order to read them in an alternate modality than what the GMU Libraries can offer, here is the course reading list broken down by access type.

Physical Only
  • Steven Shapin, The Scientific Revolution
Online Option
  • Robyn Arianrhod, Thomas Harriot: A Life in Science
  • James Delbourgo, Collecting the World: the Life and Curiosity of Hans Sloane [also in physical copy]
  • John M. Dixon, The Enlightenment of Cadwallader Colden: Empire, Science, and Intellectual Culture in British New York [also in physical copy]
  • Elaine Leong, Recipes and Everyday Knowledge: Medicine, Science, and the Household in Early Modern England
  • Pamela O. Long, Engineering the Eternal City: Infrastructure, Topography, and the Culture of Knowledge in Late Sixteenth-Century Rome
  • Andrés I. Prieto, Missionary Scientists: Jesuit Science in Spanish South America, 1570-1810
  • Ulinka Rublack, The Astronomer and the Witch: Johannes Kepler’s Fight for His Mother
  • Margaret Schotte, Sailing School: Navigating Science and Skill, 1550-1800
  • Benjamin Wardhaugh, Poor Robin’s Prophecies: A Curious Almanac, and the Everyday Mathematics of Georgian Britain
  • Simon Werrett, Thrifty Science: Making the Most of Materials in the History of Experiment
  • W.W. Woodward, Prospero’s America: John Winthrop, Jr., Alchemy, and the Creation of New England Culture, 1606-1676 [also in physical copy]
  • Anita Guerrini, The Courtiers’ Anatomists: Animals and Humans in Louis XIV’s Paris
  • Alisha Rankin, The Poison Trials: Wonder Drugs, Experiment, and the Battle for Authority in Renaissance Science