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Peter R. Dear Dear

Professor of the History of Science

Office: 435 McGraw Hall
Phone: (607) 255-6752
Fax: (607) 255-0469

Office Hours: Tuesday: 12:00-2:00; by appointment

Research and Teaching Interests

My research focus is on the history of European science in the seventeenth century.  I teach more broadly in the history of science, however, and in the fairly new field of science and technology studies.

My main undergraduate survey lecture courses are HIST 2810 and HIST 2820, "Science in Western Civilization."  2810 (fall) focuses on medieval and early modern Europe up to about 1700, while 2820 (spring) begins in the early 18th century, moving from Newton to the early 20th century.  This spring, I shall also be teaching an undergraduate seminar on science in early-modern Europe, the so-called Scientific Revolution.  I also teach a graduate seminar called "Historiographical Approaches to Science."


Fall 2015:
HIST 1941
The History of Science in Europe: From the Ancient Legacy to Isaac Newton Syllabus
HIST 4122
Darwin and the Making of Histories Syllabus
Spring 2016:
On Leave


Ph.D Princeton University, 1984
M.A. University of Cambridge, 1983
B.A. University of Cambridge, 1979

Recent Publications and Awards


Revolutionizing the Sciences:  European Knowledge and Its Ambitions, 1500-1700, new second edition (Princeton U. P., 2009).

Mersenne and the Learning of the Schools (Cornell University Press, 1988)

Discipline and Experience:  The Mathematical Way in the Scientific Revolution (University of Chicago Press, 1995).

Revolutionizing the Sciences:  European Knowledge and Its Ambitions, 1500-1700 (Basingstoke, UK:  Palgrave; Princeton:  Princeton University Press, 2001), Spanish translation as Las revolucin de las ciencias:  El conocimiento europeo y sus expectativas (1500-1700), trans. Jos Ramn Marcaida Lpez (Madrid:  Marcial Pons Historia, 2007).  Second edition now in press, due 2009.

The Intelligibility of Nature:  How Science Makes Sense of the World (University of Chicago Press, 2006); paperback (corrected) reprint 2008.

Co-editor with Lissa Roberts and Simon Schaffer, The Mindful Hand:  Inquiry and Invention from the late Renaissance to Early Industrialization (Amsterdam:  Elista, Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen, 2007); sole author of epilogue, "Towards a Genealogy of Modern Science," pp.431-441.


"Mysteries of State, Mysteries of Nature:  Authority, Knowledge and Expertise in the Seventeenth Century," in Sheila Jasanoff (ed.), States of Knowledge:  The Co-Production of Science and Social Order (London:  Routledge, 2004), pp.206-224.

"Space, Revolution, and Science," in David N. Livingstone and Charles W. J. Withers, Geography and Revolution (Chicago:  University of Chicago Press, 2005), pp.27-42.

"Circular Argument:  Descartes Vortices and Their Crafting as Explanations of Gravity," in Peter R. Anstey and John A. Schuster (eds.), The Science of Nature in the Seventeenth Century:  Patterns of Change in Early Modern Natural Philosophy (Dordrecht:  Springer, 2005), pp.81-97.

"Lintelligibilit dans les sciences," Archives Internationales dHistoire des Sciences 55 (2005), pp.9-23 (French translation of Intelligibility in Science, 2003).

"What is the History of Science the History of?  Early Modern Roots of the Ideology of Modern Science," Isis 96 (2005), pp.390-406.

"The Meanings of Experience," in Katherine Park and Lorraine Daston (eds.), The Cambridge History of Science, vol.3, Early Modern Science (Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 2006), pp.106-131.

"A Philosophical Duchess:  Understanding Margaret Cavendish and the Royal Society," in Juliet Cummins and David Burchell (eds..), Science, Literature and Rhetoric in Early Modern England (Aldershot:  Ashgate, 2007), pp.125-142.

"Cabeo, Niccol," in Noretta Koertge (ed.), New Dictionary of Scientific Biography (New York:  Scribners, 2007).

"The History of Science and the History of the Sciences: Sarton, Isis, and the Two Cultures," Isis 100 (2009), pp.89-93.

"Mixed Mathematics and Natural Philosophy," in Peter Harrison, Michael Shank, and Ronald Numbers (eds.), From Omens to Science, forthcoming from University of Chicago Press.


Helen and Miles Watson Davis Prize 2002, from History of Science Society, for Revolutionizing the Sciences.

National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2000. Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship, Jan. 1 to Aug, 20, 2001.

Ludwik Fleck Prize 1998, from the Society for Social Studies of Science, for Discipline and Experience: The Mathematical Way in the Scientific Revolution (Chicago, 1995).