The Department Welcomes David Simon!

February 15, 2018

The English Department is delighted to announce that Professor David Simon will be joining us this fall as Assistant Professor of English at the University of Maryland.

Professor Simon received his PhD from University of California, Berkeley in 2012 and has been teaching as an assistant professor at the University of Chicago since. He has published in some of the most prestigious journals in the field, presents regularly at national and international conferences, and has been an invited speaker at top-tiered institutions. He is also the recipient of many high-profile awards, including an American Council of Learned Society (ACLS) Fellowship, Solmsen Fellowship at the University of Wisconsin​ (which he declined)​, a Folger Shakespeare Library Fellowship, and a fellowship at the Townsend Center for the Humanities at the University of California, Berkeley. His dissertation received honorable mention for the highly competitive Charles Bernheimer Prize for best dissertation in Comparative Literature.

Professor Simon’s book manuscript Light without Heat: The Observational Mood from Bacon to Milton (forthcoming with Cornell University Press) offers a new account of the intimacy of literature and science in the early modern period. While scholars have often looked to this period in order to narrate the triumph of methodical rigor as a quintessentially modern intellectual value, he reveals the appeal of carelessness to the protagonists of the new science. In straying from the work of self-possession and the duty to sift fact from fiction, early modern intellectuals discovered the cognitive advantages of the undisciplined mind. Exploring the influence of the “observational mood” on both poetry and prose, he offers new readings of Michel de Montaigne, Francis Bacon, Izaak Walton, Henry Power, Robert Hooke, Robert Boyle, Andrew Marvell, and John Milton. He also extends his inquiry beyond the boundaries of early modernity, arguing for a literary theory that trades strict methodological commitment for openness to lawless drift. Professor Simon is already at work on a second book manuscript, tentatively titled The Laughter of Democritus, in which he explores the proximity of horror and comedy in early modern culture.

Professor Simon’s research interests encompass the history of science and technology; the history of the passions, the history of sexuality; rhetoric, hermeneutics, and other strands of Renaissance “literary theory”; Reformation theology; Marxian historiography and social theory; and the history of piety. His teaching commitments include Shakespeare, Milton, the literature of the seventeenth century, the history of philosophy, and the history and theory of sexuality. During his recent campus visit he proposed design​ing an I-series course entitled “Literature and Science: Milton to the Moon Landing,” as well as courses on ​gender and ​sexuality at undergraduate and graduate levels.