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UMass Sesquicentennial

University of Massachusetts Amherst

History Department

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Brian W. Ogilvie


Portrait of   Brian OgilvieAssociate Professor

Office: Herter 634
Telephone: (413) 340-1599
Fax: (815) 550-1415
Personal web site

Professor Brian Ogilvie studied at the University of Chicago, where he received his B.A. (1990), M.A. (1992), and Ph.D. (1997), as well as at Cambridge University, where he was a member of Trinity College.

 He is currently working on two book projects:Nature's Bible: Insects in European Art, Science, and Religion from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment, and Butterfly, for the "Animal" series from Reaktion Books. He is also involved in a Leverhulme Trust International Research Network on the scientific career of Francis Willughby, FRS (1635-1672). He has published several articles and chapters on early modern science and historiography, and, with Bridget Marshall, on a case of witchcraft in seventeenth-century Hadley, Massachusetts, the town where he lives. His broader scholarly interests include the history of scholarship, witchcraft belief and persecution, and the history of religion.

He has served as the History Department's Graduate Program Director and as Director of the UMass Oxford Summer Seminar, and as co-director of the Digital Humanities Initiative in the College of Humanities and Fine Arts.

Research Areas:

Renaissance and early modern Europe

History of science

History of religion

Publications (selected):

Brian W. Ogilvie, The science of describing: Natural history in Renaissance Europe (University of Chicago Press, 2006; paperback, 2008).

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

Brian W. Ogilvie, “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).

Brian W. Ogilvie, “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).

Brian W. Ogilvie, “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.

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 (University of Massachusetts Press, 2009).

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

Awards and Accolades (selected):

Residential Fellowship, Institut d’Etudes Avancées de Paris, January-June 2012

National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, 2004-05

Residential Fellowship, Columbia University Institute for Scholars at Reid Hall, Paris, 2004-05

Research Stipend, Max-Planck-Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte, Berlin, June 2003

American Philosophical Society General Research Grant, 1999

Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities, 1991 (honorary; declined stipend)

National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship, 1991

National Endowment for the Humanities Younger Scholar, 1989

Courses Taught Recently
Undergraduate: Introduction to World Religions; Western Science and Technology I; Renaissance and Reformation Europe; Witchcraft, Magic, and Science
Graduate: Scientific Revolution; Topics in Early Modern Europe; Witchcraft, Magic, and Science