Wesleyan portrait of Courtney Weiss  Smith

Courtney Weiss Smith

Associate Professor of English

Downey House, 294 High Street, 301

Associate Professor, Science in Society


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 Affiliated Faculty in the Science in Society Program at Wesleyan University. Her research and teaching focus on the literary, cultural, and intellectual history of England in the long eighteenth century. Her book, Empiricist Devotions: Science, Religion, and Poetry in Early Eighteenth-Century England (University of Virginia Press, 2016), is the winner of the Walker Cowen Memorial Prize for outstanding scholarship in eighteenth-century studies. Currently, she is working on a new book, The Sound of Sense in Enlightenment England--a history of ideas about poetic sound (including rhyme, onomatopoeia, alliteration, 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 (forthcoming 2020)

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

Office Hours, Spring 2020: Tuesdays from 2-4 and by appointment

Office Location: English Department, Downey House (294 High Street), #301

(For the 2019-2020 year, she will also have an office in the College of the Environment, as a member of the COE Thinktank. Regular office hours will always be in her Downey office, though appointments might be in the COE). 


Fall 2020
ENGL 283 - 01
Old Poetics for New Poets

ENGL 314 - 01
Circulating Bodies

Spring 2021
ENGL 201T - 01
Ways of Reading: Literature

ENGL 253 - 01
Science and Literature