Academic Interests

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      I am an intellectual and cultural historian of Europe, with special interests in the history of science, scholarship, and religion from the Renaissance through the Enlightenment. I am currently Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Chair of the History Department. I have previously served as Graduate Program Director and Associate Chair/Scheduling Officer in History, as Co-Director of the Digital Humanities Initiative in the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, and as Director of the university’s Oxford Summer Seminar.

      I am engaged in several research projects in cultural history and the history of science. I teach Renaissance and early modern European history, history of science, and history of religion.


      University of Chicago: BA 1990, MA 1992, Ph.D. 1997
      Trinity College, Cambridge University: exchange scheme, 1989-90


      The science of describing: Natural history in Renaissance Europe (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006; paperback reissue 2008). Received Honorable Mention (2nd place) in the History of Science category of the Association of American Publishers’ 2006 Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division Awards for Excellence. Shortlisted for the Pfizer Prize (2007) of the History of Science Society. A Chinese translation is in progress under a license to Peking University Press, Beijing.
      Articles, chapters, and essays (peer-reviewed; single author, unless noted)
      “Stoics, Neoplatonists, atheists, politicians: Sources and uses of early modern Jesuit natural theology,” in For the sake of learning: Essays in honor of Anthony Grafton, edited by Ann Blair and Anja-Silvia Goeing, 2: 761-79 (Leiden: Brill, 2016).

      “Willughby on insects,” in Virtuoso by nature: The scientific worlds of Francis Willughby FRS (1635-1672), edited by Tim Birkhead, 335-59 (Leiden: Brill, 2016).

      “Scientific archives in the age of digitization” (in a Focus section on the archival turn in history of science), Isis 107, no. 1 (2016): 77-85.

      “Correspondence networks,” in A Companion to the history of science, ed. Bernard V. Lightman, 358-71 (Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2016).

      “Maria Sibylla Merian et la mouche porte-lanterne du Surinam. Naissance et disparition d’un fait scientifique,” in Les savoirs-mondes: Mobilités et circulation des savoirs depuis le Moyen Âge, ed. Pilar González-Bernaldo et Liliane Hilaire-Peréz, 147-57 (Rennes: Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2015).

      “Science and medicine,” in The Oxford Handbook of Neo-Latin, ed. Sarah Knight and Stefan Tilg, 263-277 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015).

      “Insects in John Ray’s natural history and natural theology,” in Zoology in early modern culture: Intersections of science, theology, philology, and political and religious education, ed. Karl A. E. Enenkel and Paul J. Smith, 234-60 (Intersections, 32) (Leiden: Brill, 2014).

      “Order of insects: Insect species and metamorphosis between Renaissance and Enlightenment,” in The life sciences in early modern philosophy, ed. Ohad Nachtomy and Justin E. H. Smith, 222-245 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014).

      “The pleasure of describing: Art and science in August Johann Rösel von Rosenhof’s Monthly Insect Entertainment,” in Animals on display: The creaturely in museums, zoos, and natural history, ed. Liv Emma Thorsen, Karen A. Rader, and Adam Dodd, 77-100 (University Park: Penn State University Press, 2013).

      “Beasts, birds, and insects: Folkbiology and early modern classification of insects,” in Wissenschaftsgeschichte und Geschichte des Wissens im Dialog – Connecting science and knowledge: Schauplätze der Forschung – Scenes of research, ed. Kaspar von Greyerz, Silvia Flubacher, and Philipp Senn, 295-316 (Göttingen: V&R unipress, 2013).

      “How to write a letter: Humanist correspondence manuals and the late Renaissance community of naturalists,” Jahrbuch für europäische Wissenschaftskultur/Yearbook for European Culture of Science 6 (2011 [published 2012]): 13-38.

      “Attending to insects: Francis Willughby and John Ray,” Notes and Records of the Royal Society 66, no. 4 (2012): 357-372, doi:10.1098/rsnr.2012.0051.

      Bridget M. Marshall and Brian Ogilvie, “‘There shall be a wonder in Hadley!’ Mary Webster’s ‘hideous witchcraft,’” in Cultivating a past: Essays on the history of Hadley, Massachusetts, edited by Marla Miller, 135-153 (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2009).

      “Nature’s Bible: Insects in seventeenth-century European art and science,” Tidsskrift for kulturforskning [Journal of Cultural Research, Oslo, Norway] 7, no. 3 (2008): 5-21.

      “Natural history, ethics, and physico-theology,” in Historia: Empiricism and erudition in early modern Europe, edited by Gianna Pomata and Nancy G. Siraisi, 75-103 (Boston: MIT Press, 2005).

      “Science,” in Palgrave advances in Renaissance historiography, edited by Jonathan Woolfson, 241-269 (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005).

      “The many books of nature: Renaissance naturalists and information overload,” Journal of the History of Ideas 64 (2003): 29-40.

      “Image and text in natural history, 1500-1700,” in The power of images in early modern science, ed. Wolfgang Lefèvre, Jürgen Renn, and Urs Schöpflin, 141-166 (Basel: Birkhäuser Verlag, 2003).

      “Encyclopædism in Renaissance botany: From Historia to Pinax,” in Pre-modern encyclopædic texts: Proceedings of the Second COMERS Congress, Groningen, 1-4 July 1996, ed. Peter Binkley, pp. 89-99 (Leiden: Brill, 1997).
      Commissioned articles, chapters, and essays; preprints (not peer-reviewed)
      “Naturkunde,” in Renaissance-Humanismus: Lexikon zur Antikenrezeption (Der neue Pauly – Supplemente, 2. Staffel, Band 9), ed. Manfred Landfester, col. 682-93 (Stuttgart: J. B. Metzler, 2014). Approximately 4,000 words.

      “La storia naturale tra libro ed esperienza” [Natural history between books and experience], in Il Rinascimento italiano e l’Europa, vol. 5, Le scienze, ed. Antonio Clericuzio and Germana Ernst, 163-178, trans. Maria Conforti (Vicenza: Angelo Colla Editore, 2008).

      “Leonhart Fuchs: The value of illustrations,” in The great naturalists, ed. Robert Huxley, 48-58 (London: Thames & Hudson in association with the Natural History Museum, 2007).

      “Travel and natural history in the sixteenth century,” in Brian W. Ogilvie, Anke te Heesen, and Martin Gierl, Sammeln in der Frühen Neuzeit, pp. 3-28 (Berlin: Max-Planck-Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte, Preprint No. 50, 1996).
      Review essays
      “Renaissance culture: Up close from a distance.” Essay review of The impact of humanism; Courts, patrons and poets; Challenges to authority; The Renaissance in Europe: An anthology; and The Renaissance in Europe: A reader, by Peter Elmer, et al., H-W-Civ, H-Net Reviews, June 2001, URL:

      “Renaissance and Humanism in the English-language scholarly literature, 1998-2000,” Pirckheimer-Jahrbuch für Renaissance- und Humanismusforschung 15/16 (2000/01): 300-318.

      “Renaissance and Humanism in the English-language Scholarly Literature, 1988-1998,” Pirckheimer-Jahrbuch für Renaissance- und Humanismusforschung 13 (1998): 141-163.
      Short encyclopedia entries
      “Botany,” in The Classical Tradition, ed. Anthony Grafton, Glenn W. Most, and Salvatore Setis, pp. 146-147 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010). Approximately 1200 words.

      “Zoology,” in The Classical Tradition, ed. Anthony Grafton, Glenn W. Most, and Salvatore Setis, pp. 1000-1001. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010). Approximately 1000 words.

      Book reviews
      My book reviews have appeared in American Scientist, Annals of Science, Central European History, H-W-Civ, Isis, Journal of Modern History, Journal of the History of Biology, Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, Left History, Medical History, Metascience, Renaissance Quarterly , Sixteenth Century Journal, and Zygon.

      Brian W. Ogilvie

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