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Personal profile

Research interests

I received my PhD. from Birkbeck, University of London and, before coming to York, lectured at Birkbeck, the University of Reading and the University of Leeds. I have research interests in early modern science and intellectual history, the uses of the Bible in the seventeenth century and poetics and rhetoric.  I am the author of The Unknowable in Early Modern Thought: Natural Philosophy and the Poetics of the Ineffable (Stanford, 2023), and The Political Bible in Early Modern England (Cambridge University Press, 2017), which looks at the political uses of the biblical kings and the Old Testament in the renaissance, and I have published work on this topic in The Journal of the History of Ideas and The Huntington Library Quarterly. I am the editor of The Oxford Handbook of the Bible in Early Modern England, c. 1530-1700 (Oxford, 2015) with Helen Smith (York) and Rachel Willie (Liverpool John Moore's), whch won the Roland H. Bainton Prize (for Reference Works), 2016.

I am the author of Biblical Scholarship, Science and Politics in Early Modern England: Thomas Browne and the Thorny Place of Knowledge (Ashgate, 2009), which won the CCUE Book Prize and which was shortlisted for the US History of Science Society Watson Davis Prize, and co-editor, together with Peter Forshaw (Amsterdam), of Biblical Exegesis and the Emergence of Science in the Early Modern Era (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007).

I have edited a one-volume work of Sir Thomas Browne: Oxford 21stCentury Authors (Oxford, 2014) and am one of the editors of the new eight-volume Complete Works of Thomas Browne, commissioned by Oxford University Press and supported by an AHRC grant, under the general editorship of Claire Preston (Queen Mary). This involves editing Browne’s labyrinthine and encyclopaedic Pseudodoxia Epidemica, together with Jessica Wolfe (North Carolina) and Harriet Phillips (Queen Mary).

I am the organiser of the Thomas Browne Seminar, an annual symposium which examines mid seventeenth-century the history of science and scholarship, religious and antiquarian thought, natural history and the history of trivia. Previous meetings have been held at Birkbeck and Leeds. I have organised conferences on Poetics and Prose theory, on Time in Early Modern thought, Technology and Invention in the seventeenth century, Biblical Exegesis and a large scale event on The Bible in the Seventeenth Century. I am the editor of the international journal, Renaissance Studiesand a member of the the council of the Society for Renaissance Studies