Courtney Weiss Smith

Biography and/or project

Courtney Weiss Smith is an Associate Professor in the Department of English at Wesleyan University and an Associate Editor at History & Theory. Her research and teaching focus on the literary, cultural, and intellectual history of England in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Her first book, Empiricist Devotions, was the winner of the Walker Cowen Memorial Prize for outstanding scholarship in eighteenth-century studies. Currently, she is writing 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.

–Empiricist Devotions Science, Religion, and Poetry in Early Eighteenth-Century England (University of Virginia Press, 2016)
Selected Essays:
–“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 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.

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

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