Blair, Ann 1961-

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Blair, Ann 1961-


Born 1961. Education: Harvard University, B.A., 1984; Cambridge University, M.Phil., 1985; Princeton University, Ph.D., 1990.


Office—Department of History, Harvard University, Robinson Hall, 35 Quincy St., Cambridge, MA 02138.


Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, lecturer and acting head tutor, 1991–93, assistant professor, 1996–99, John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences, 1999–2001, professor of history, 2001—; University of California, Irvine, CA, assistant professor, 1992–96.


Andrew W. Mellon Foundation fellowship, 2002; MacArthur Fellowship, 2002.


(Editor, with Anthony Grafton) The Transmission of Culture in Early Modern Europe, University of Pennsylvania Press (Philadelphia, PA), 1990.

The Theater of Nature: Jean Bodin and Renaissance Science, Princeton University Press, 1997.

Contributor to academic works, including The Cambridge History of Early Modern Science, edited by Lorraine Daston and Katharine Park, Cambridge University Press, in press; and The Cambridge History of Christianity, Volume 6: Re-Formation and Expansion, 1500-1660, edited by Ronnie Po-Chia Hsia, Cambridge University Press, in press. Contributor to academic journals, including Isis and Critical Inquiry.


In The Theater of Nature: Jean Bodin and Renaissance Science, historian Ann Blair sheds new light on the theories of nature and natural philosophy of sixteenth-century French philosopher Jean Bodin, particularly as they relate to his 1596 tome Theatre de l'univers, which proved influential to many subsequent generations of thinkers. In a world just beginning to understand the natural world through scientific means, Bodin, like many other thinkers of his day, was consumed with imposing the rules of order onto nature so as to better study and understand not only nature, but the whole universe. Blair revisits the watershed work in order to elucidate the intellectual environment in which Bodin wrote, providing additional information about the formation of the knowledge base upon which Francis Bacon, Rene Descartes, and others later expounded. "Blair deserves praise for grappling with the Theatrum's totality," wrote April G. Shelford in the Renaissance Quarterly, "she shows how Bodin's arguments were shaped by a ‘bookish’ intellectual culture, medieval assumptions, a shallow anti-Aristotelianism, and a corrosive lawyerly dialectic." Writing in the Journal of Modern History, Kilian Heck praised Blair's work. "Precisely by limit- ing herself to a single work she succeeds in revealing the enormous complexity of the discussions of natural philosophy," Heck wrote.



History: Review of New Books, fall, 1998, Karl H. Dannenfeldt, review of The Theater of Nature: Jean Bodin and Renaissance Science, p. 44.

Journal of Modern History, March, 2000, Kilian Heck, review of The Theater of Nature, p. 184.

Renaissance Quarterly, spring, 1999, April G. Shelford, review of The Theater of Nature, p. 249.

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