Wesleyan portrait of Courtney Weiss  Smith

Courtney Weiss Smith

Associate Professor of English

Downey House, 294 High Street, 301

Associate Professor, Science and Technology Studies


BA University Of Dayton
MA Washington University
PHD Washington University

Courtney Weiss Smith

Courtney Weiss Smith is an Associate Professor in the Department of English and an Associate Editor at History & Theory. Her first book, Empiricist Devotions: Science, Religion, and Poetry in Early Eighteenth-Century England (University of Virginia Press, 2016), won the Walker Cowen Memorial Prize for outstanding scholarship in eighteenth-century studies. She is the editor, with James Noggle, of a substantively revised 11th edition of the Norton Anthology of English Literature, vol. C, The Restoration and Eighteenth Century (forthcoming, 2023). She is also writing Sound Stuff: Words in Enlightenment Philosophy and Poetics, a history of ideas about poetic sound (including rhyme, onomatopoeia, pun, and polyptoton). The project explores how poets but also philosophers and natural philosophers understood the material forms that words took. Selected publications include:

"The Matter of Language: or, What Does 'The Sound must seem an Eccho to the Sense' Mean?" ELH 87.1 (2020): 39-64.

Rhyme and Reason in John Wilkins’s Philosophical Language SchemeModern Philology 115.2 (2017): 183-212. 

Anne Finch’s Descriptive Turn,” in “Bruno Latour and Eighteenth-Century Literary Studies,” ed. Christina Lupton and Sean Silver, with Adam Sneed, special issue of The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation 57.2 (2016): 251-65.

Eighteenth-Century Poetry and the Rise of the Novel Reconsidered, ed. Kate Parker and Courtney Weiss Smith (Bucknell University Press, 2014; paperback, 2015).

See also other recent writing: “The Science of Prosody, circa 1677” and “Where Does Language Come From?”

Academic Affiliations

Office Hours

Spring 2024 Student Hours (where you never need an appointment): Wednesdays, 9:30-11:30am. She is also always available by appointment. 


Fall 2024
ENGL 162 - 01
Poetry Lab