Mark Waddell

Position: Associate Professor
Field: Early Modern, Intellectual, Religious, Science/Medicine
Region: Europe & Russia

Office: 244 Old Horticulture
Phone: (517) 884-4922

Dr. Waddell is an Associate Professor in the Department of History (25%) and the Lyman Briggs College (75%). He received his Ph.D. in the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology from the Johns Hopkins University in 2006. As an historian of ideas specializing in Europe of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, he studies the complex interactions between science, medicine, and culture, particularly religion and esotericism. His first book, Jesuit Science and the End of Nature’s Secrets, appeared in 2015 with Ashgate, and examines the close ties between scientific innovation and spiritual practice among several highly-placed Jesuit intellectuals in the seventeenth century.

He also has an interest in theories of natural magic and related disciplines from the Renaissance to the eighteenth century. In his next major project–tentatively entitled, The Devil’s Cure: Proof, Plausibility, and Sympathetic Medicine in Early Modern Europe–he will explore the infamous medical remedy known as the weapon salve or powder of sympathy, which was reputed to heal wounds over great distances when applied not to the wound itself but to the weapon that had caused it, or to traces of the patient’s blood.

Dr. Waddell is also at work on a book for Cambridge University Press titled, Magic, Science, and Religion in Europe, 1400-1750, which will introduce undergraduates and others to important ideas in the history of science, medicine, religion, and esotericism.

In 2008, Dr. Waddell worked as an historical consultant on a traveling exhibition produced by the National Library of Medicine of the NIH: Harry Potter’s World: Renaissance Science, Magic, and Medicine.  The exhibition, which has toured throughout the US, Canada, and the UK since 2009, explores important ideas in the history of science and medicine through the Harry Potter novels. It also includes a resource for post-secondary instructors who might want to incorporate some of this history into their own classes.

Dr. Waddell teaches courses in European intellectual history before 1800, the historical interactions between science and religion, and the relationship between gender, race, and science. In Spring of 2016 he taught a new course on magic, witchcraft, and the occult in pre-modern Europe.

Selected Publications

  • Waddell, Mark A. 2010. “A Theater of the Unseen: Athanasius Kircher’s Museum in Rome,” in A World Such As This I Dreamed: Cosmogony in the Early Modern Mind, ed. Allison B. Kavey (New York: Palgrave-Macmillan).
  • Waddell, Mark A. 2010. “Magic and Artifice in the Collection of Athanasius Kircher.”  Endeavour, 34(1): 30-34.
  • Waddell, Mark A. 2006. “The World, As It Might Be: Iconography and Probabilism in the Mundus subterraneus of Athanasius Kircher.” Centaurus, 48(1): 3-23.
  • Waddell, Mark A. 2003. “The Perversion of Nature: Johannes Baptista van Helmont, the Society of Jesus, and the Magnetic Cure of Wounds.” Canadian Journal of History, 38(2): 179-197.

Classes Taught

HST 337: European Thought, 1500-1750

HST 452: Magic, Witchcraft, and the Occult in Pre-Modern Europe

HST 110: Historical Approaches to Contemporary Issues

HST 850: Seminar in Comparative History