Skip to main content

People at LBC

Mark Waddell
Mark Waddell, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Department: HPS
Address: E-190 Holmes
Phone: (517) 884-0594
Email: waddellm@msu.edu

Dr. Waddell is an Assistant Professor in Lyman Briggs College (75%) and the Department of History (25%). 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, and in his next major project—tentatively entitled, The Devil’s Cure: Magical Medicine and the Problem of Plausibility in the Seventeenth Century—he will explore the infamous medical remedy known as the weapon salve, 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.

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 a wide range of courses on topics that include European intellectual history before 1800, the historical interactions between science and religion, cyborgism and technobiology, and the relationship between gender, race, and science. In Spring of 2016 he will teach 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

LB 133: Food in Modern American Culture

LB 332: Cyborg Nation: Technobiology and the Rise of Transhumanism

LB 333: Magic, Science, and Religion

LB 492: Gender and the Rise of Modern Science



Honors
    2015 -Lilly Teaching Fellow
    2006 -Dutton Fellow in Science and Technology Studies, Lyman Briggs College
    2005 -Dean’s Teaching Fellowship, The Johns Hopkins University
    2005 -Charles S. Singleton Fellowship, The Johns Hopkins University
    2004 -Roy G. Neville Fellowship, The Chemical Heritage Foundation, Philadelphia, PA


Grants
    Michigan State University Science and Society at State Collaborative Grant Award,, (Waddell, Jordan, Breedlove, Wake, Fick), From the Asylum to the Lab Bench: Fostering LGBTQ Inclusion in STEM Disciplines Today [2015 -2015] $10,000
    Michigan State University Science and Society at State Collaborative Grant Award, (El-Rayes, Chatti, Largent, Craig), Engineering Ethics in Tunisia [2015 -2015] $10,000

Articles
    2010 'Magic and Artifice in the Collection of Athanasius Kircher.' Endeavour 34.1 (2010): 30-34.
    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, 2010), pp. 67-90.
    2006 'The World, As It Might Be: Iconography and Probabilism in the Mundus subterraneus of Athanasius Kircher.' Centaurus 48.1 (2006): 3-23.
    2005 'To the Greater Glory of God: Athanasius Kircher and Jesuit Science in the Seventeenth Century.' Chemical Heritage Magazine 23.1 (Spring 2005).


 Books

Jesuit Science and the End of Nature’s Secrets book image
Jesuit Science and the End of Nature’s Secrets
Jesuit Science and the End of Nature’s Secrets explores how several prominent Jesuit naturalists - including Niccolò Cabeo, Athanasius Kircher, and Gaspar Schott - tackled the problem of occult or insensible causation in the seventeenth century. The search for hidden causes lay at the heart of the early modern study of nature, and included phenomena such as the activity of the magnet, the marvelous powers ascribed to certain animals and plants, and the hidden, destructive forces churning in the depths of the Earth. While this was a project embraced by most early modern naturalists, however, the book demonstrates that the Jesuits were uniquely suited to the study of nature’s hidden secrets because of the complex methods of contemplation and meditation enshrined at the core of their spirituality. Divided into six chapters, the work documents how particular Jesuits sought to reveal and expose nature’s myriad secrets through an innovative blending of technology, imagery, and experiment. Moving beyond the conventional Aristotelianism mandated by the Society of Jesus, they set forth a vision of the world that made manifest the works of God as Creator, no matter how deeply hidden those works were. The book thus not only presents a narrative that challenges present-day assumptions about the role played by Catholic religious communities in the formation of modern science, but also captures the exuberance and inventiveness of the early modern study of nature.
Pages: 224
Publisher: Ashgate Publishing
Date Published: June 2015
ISBN-13: 978-1472449726