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Dr Richard Oosterhoff

Dr Richard Oosterhoff

Fellow and Tutor, St Edmund’s College

Research Associate, CRASSH

Associate/Reviews Editor, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science

Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities
Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road

Cambridge CB3 9DT

Subject groups/Research projects

Early Modern History:

Research Interests

Past and ongoing projects pick out paths through the topics of friendship and the social practices of knowledge communities, the senses, early modern data management, the history of print and reading, the visual culture of early mathematics, apprenticeship patterns for learned and craft knowers, women teachers in the Reformation, and—increasingly—global and comparative approaches to early modern history.

Currently, Dr Oosterhoff is a member of the CRASSH project Genius before Romanticism: Ingenuity in Early Art and Science. With this project, he is researching a monograph on the “untutored mind” in Early Modern Europe. Between 1400 and 1750, European intellectuals increasingly found inspiration in the ingenuity or “common sense” of artisans, laypeople, women, farmers, and non-Europeans. The eyes of simple faith see farthest, argued Protestant and Catholic reformers alike. For “moderns” from Montaigne and Francis Bacon to Rousseau, it is the naïve mind, undefiled by books, that sees most truly. Through popular theological works, educational treatises, recipe books, New World narratives, the growing genre of how-to books, and philosophical works, this study traces the early modern expansion of the conviction that unlearned knowledge is the most trustworthy.

As part of Genius before Romanticism, Dr Oosterhoff has co-organized several major conferences (found under “events”).

He is also editing a collected volume, Ingenuity in the Making, on materials, technique, and craft culture.


For the History Faculty, Dr Oosterhoff contributes to early modern papers, recently offering a short lecture series on “Artisans and Craft Culture in Early Modern Europe,” to supplement Part I Paper 16. He also occasionally teaches and supervises on the history of the exact sciences for History and Philosophy of Science, and on Renaissance Latin for History of Art and for the Warburg Institute (School of Advanced Study, London).


  • International History
  • Early Modern History

Other Publications


Making Mathematical Culture: University and Print in the Circle of Lefèvre d’Étaples (Oxford University Press, forthcoming)

Logodaedalus: Word Histories of Ingenuity, co-authored with Alexander Marr, Raphaële Garrod, José Ramon Marcaida (forthcoming)



“‘Secrets of Industry’ for ‘Common Men’: Early French Readerships of Technical Print,” in Translating Early Modern Science, ed. Sietske Fransen (Leiden: Brill, forthcoming 2017). 

Richard J. Oosterhoff, “Lovers in Paratexts: Oronce Fine’s Republic of Mathematics,” Nuncius: Journal of the Material and Visual History of Science 31, no. 3 (2016): 549–83.

Richard J. Oosterhoff, “A Book, a Pen, and the Sphere: Reading Sacrobosco in the Renaissance,” History of Universities 28, no. 2 (2015): 1–54.

Richard J. Oosterhoff, “Idiotae , Mathematics, and Artisans: The Untutored Mind and the Discovery of Nature in the Fabrist Circle,” Intellectual History Review 24 (2014): 1–19.

Richard J. Oosterhoff, “From Pious to Polite: Pythagoras in the Res Publica Litterarum of French Renaissance Mathematics,” Journal of the History of Ideas 74, no. 4 (2013): 531–52.