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. She is also 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 also co-editor, with Kate Parker, of Eighteenth-Century Poetry and the Rise of the Novel Reconsidered (Bucknell University Press, 2014). Currently, she is writing The Sound of Sense in Enlightenment England, 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

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Fall 2021
ENGL 210 - 01
The Rise of the Novel

SISP 213 - 01
Science Studies in the World

Spring 2022
ENGL 283 - 01
Old Poetics for New Poets