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 an intellectual history of poetic sound (including ideas about rhyme, onomatopoeia, polyptoton, echo, and prosody). 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)

“Rhyme and Reason in John Wilkins’s Philosophical Language Scheme” Modern 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 a recent blog post, at Stanford's Arcade: "The Science of Prosody, circa 1677"

Academic Affiliations

Office Hours

On leave for the 2018-2019 academic year

Office Location: 294 High St (Downey) #301


Fall 2019
SISP 213 - 01
Science Studies in the World