Skip to main content
more options

Rachel Weil Weil

Professor, Director of Graduate Studies

Office: 434 McGraw Hall
Phone: (607) 255-8897
Fax: (607) 255-0469
Updated CV

Office Hours: Thursday: 12:45-2:00pm, or by appointment

Research and Teaching Interests

I work on the political and cultural history of early modern England, and in particular the connections between politics and culture. My first book, Political Passions: Gender, the Family and Political Argument in England, 1680-1714, examined the ways that ideas about women, marriage and the family were used by theorists and pamphleteers to make arguments about political issues: hereditary succession, contract and resistance, the relation of public to private, and court corruption. My current book project, "A Plague of Informers," focusses on men and women, often of low social status, who claimed to have discovered plots against the government in the period after the Revolution of 1688. The credibility of these informers, and the treatment of persons suspected of disloyalty to the new regime, were matters of fierce debate in the period; these debates, I argue, played into wider concerns about how to determine trustworthiness, about who could speak out on matters of political importance, and about how a revoution that justified itself as having restored the subjects' liberty should handle the problem of security.

I teach courses in early modern English and British History (covering 1500-1800), early modern Europe, gender history, intellectual and cultural history, and the early modern Atlantic World.


Fall 2014:
HIST 3945/6945
The Birth of the Prison in Eighteenth Century Europe and America Syllabus
Spring 2014:
HIST 3490
Renaissance England, 1485-1660

Other Courses Taught at Cornell

History 3490  Renaissance England
History 4950  Gender and Power in Early Modern England
History 2720 The Atlantic World from Conquest to Revolution (with Mary Beth Norton)


Ph.D. Princeton University, 1991
M.A. Princeton University, 1984
B.A. Brown University, 1981

Recent Publications and Awards


Coming soon from Yale University Press: A Plague of Informers: Conspiracy and Political Trust in William IIIís England,

Political Passions: Gender, the Family and Political Argument in England 1680-1714 is now available in paperback!


Political Passions: Gender, the Family and Political Argument in England 1680-1714 (Manchester University Press, 1999).

"The Female Politician in the Late Stuart Age" in Julia M. Alexander and Catherine Macleod, eds. Politics, Transgression, and Representation at the Court of Charles II (Yale University Press, 2007).

"The politics of informing in the 1690s: Matthew Smith versus the 'Great Men'" in Steve Pincus & Peter Lake, eds, The Politics of the Public Sphere in Early Modern England (Manchester University Press,2007).

"Thinking about Allegiance in the English Civil War" (History Workshop Journal, Spring 2006).

"Sometimes a Sceptre is only a Sceptre: Pornography and Politics in Restoration England" in Lynn Hunt, ed. The Invention of Pornography ( NY: Zone Books, 1993).


1999 Huntington library short-term research fellowship.