Welcome to my website. I am an independent historian of late medieval and Renaissance history and the history of science and technology.
I am working on two new "main" projects. I and architectural historian Ann Huppert, are jointly researching and writing a book on the construction of the Gesu' in Rome, a huge church constructed in the center of Rome between 1568 and 1580. Our work is based on numerous archival documents, including a detailed building account that show payouts to workers from the beginning of the work - the foundations - to the end, including the roof and facade..
Second I am writing a book about the lure of machines and machine books from the late 15th century to the early 17th - from Leonardo da Vinci to Vincenzo Scamozzi. In one aspect of this work,
medieval historian of science Elly Truitt and I are writing a joint article on Leonardo's mechanics and the medieval science of weights.
My latest book is Engineering the Eternal City: Infrastructure, Topography, and the Culture of Knowledge in Late Sixteenth-Century Rome (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018). Link to Chicago description I am honored that it has been awarded the Sidney M. Edelstein Prize from the Society for the History of Technology; The Bridge Book Award from the Cassa Della Lettratura, Rome, and the Center for Fiction NYC (category American non-Fiction); and the Howard R. Marraro Prize from the American Catholic Historical Association.
My book Artisan/Practitioners and the Rise of the New Sciences 1400-1600 (Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University Press, 2011), came out of the Horning Visiting Scholar lectures that I gave at Oregon State in April 2010.
Link to Oregon State description
I am co-author and co-editor (with David McGee and Alan M. Stahl) of The Book of Michael of Rhodes: A Fifteenth-Century Maritime Manuscript, 3 vols. (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2009). Michael of Rhodes was a mariner who began his career as an oarsman on a Venetian galley and who wrote a book in the 1430s. Our three-volume edition has been awarded the Eugene S. Ferguston Prize by the Society for the History of Technology and the J. Franklin Jameson Prize by the American Historical Association.
Michael of Rhodes website Link to Amazon description
I am also a co-author (with Brian Curran, Anthony Grafton, and Benjamin Weiss) of Obelisk: A History (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2009).
Link to Amazon description
My publications include Openness, Secrecy, Authorship: Technical Arts and the Culture of Knowledge from Antiquity to the Renaissance (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001), winner of the Morris D. Forkosch Prize for the best book in intellectual history published in 2001.
Link to Amazon description
I am the co-editor with Asif Siddiqi of the series, "Historical Perspectives on Technology, Society, and Culture" published jointly by SHOT (the Society for the History of Technology) and John Hopkins University Press.
The best way to contact me is by email: