Department of History
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MA (Edinburgh), MA (Leeds), PhD (Leeds)
Sophie Weeks is a Lecturer in early modern history. She is a member of the Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies, and of the Centre for the History of Philosophy (CHiPhi). Before joining the Department in 2012, she was a Junior Research Fellow at Homerton College, Cambridge, and a Lecturer in the School of Philosophy, Religion and the History of Science at the University of Leeds. She has wide interests in early modern intellectual history, with a particular focus on the history of science.
Sophie’s research focuses on the philosopher Francis Bacon (1561–1626). She is currently working on two projects.
First, she is completing a book entitled Francis Bacon’s Science of Magic. Offering a novel interpretation of the knowledge-power relationship in Francis Bacon’s ‘Great Instauration’, this study argues that Bacon proposed a science of magic as the very core of his whole programme for the reform of natural knowledge. Sharing certain goals with the occult sciences, Bacon’s project intended the production of novelties and wonders beyond our wildest expectations and dreams. Indeed, there is something appalling, Faustian even, in Bacon’s ambition to conquer nature, including human nature. However, while sharing the goals of the occult sciences and approving their experiential or experimental bias, he scorns the theoretical underpinnings they offer and their lack of methodical perseverance. In fact, Bacon’s science of magic is resolutely anti-occultist.
Second, she is editing (with Daniel Andersson and Rhodri Lewis) volume 5 of the Oxford University Press edition of Francis Bacon’s complete works, which comprises Bacon’s early philosophical writings to about 1611.
Her next long-term project will be devoted to what she considers to be a key component of the Scientific Revolution, namely the emergence of the concept of laws of nature.
Sophie welcomes enquiries from prospective postgraduate students interested in doing research in early modern history and the history of science. She is happy to correspond with those interested in refining possible topics for research.
‘Gunpowder and the rise of early modern science.’ AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award with the Royal Armouries.
‘The role of ballistics in the development of early modern science.’
Summer term 2023