Department of English Language and Literature and the College
David Simon’s research focuses on the literary and intellectual history of 16th- and 17th-century England, often in connection with continental (especially French) cultural phenomena. He is writing a book about the intimacy of literature and science in this period, which explores the shared interest of natural philosophers and poets in the epistemological and ethical consequences of carelessness and other forms of casual indifference. By describing experiences of minimal feeling that are neither repressive nor illusory, neither achievements of self-discipline nor self-serving fabrications, the protagonists of his project disclose an unfamiliar conception of scientific dispassion. For Boyle, Marvell, Milton, and others, “nonchalance” intensifies receptivity and draws out the world’s hidden properties.
Simon gravitates toward issues that connect past and present: the history of science and technology; the history of the passions (including 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.
Simon received his PhD in comparative literature from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2012 and his BA in the same field from Brown University in 2004.
Simon joined the University of Chicago faculty in 2012.