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 Renaissance and History

Steve Matthews

Steve Matthews named 2009-2011
McKnight Land-Grant Professor

Steven Matthews, UMD assistant professor of history, was awarded a McKnight Land Grant Professorship for 2009-2011. The two-year grant program will further Matthews' research on the topic of theology and science in the precursors of England's Royal Society.

The University of Minnesota Office of the Provost and the Graduate School co-sponsor this program to advance the careers of promising junior faculty. Recipients are nominated by their academic departments and are chosen for their potential to make important contributions to their field; the originality and innovation of their ideas and achievements; the significance of their research; the quality of their publications; and their potential for attracting outstanding students.The program awarded 11 professorships for 2009-2011.

Matthews, a historian of science who specializes in the 16th and 17th centuries, started working at UMD in the fall of 2004 and was selected for a tenure track position in Early Modern Europe and the History of Science in spring 2007. "My past publications have focused on the figure of Francis Bacon, considered a "founding father' of empirical method," Matthews said. "My current research turns to those who consciously applied Bacon's philosophy to their research and experiments and eventually founded the Royal Society in 1660.

Matthews believes that the true relationship between religion and science in the early Royal Society can be recognized in the private papers of those who were its founding members, and especially in the correspondence of Henry Oldenburg and Samuel Hartlib, which recorded the gatherings and the exchanges of men who would eventually form the Society. With the grant, Matthews will be able to travel throughout the archives of Britain, purchase a copy of the Hartlib correspondence, and translate the information.

"Because of my language abilities, prior knowledge and research, the topic was kind of thrust upon me," Matthews said. At the end, Matthews hopes his work will, "shed light on the religious motivations and assumptions behind the science of the self-described "Baconians" who laid the foundations of the Royal Society."

Matthews' research includes the book, Theology and Science in the Thought of Francis Bacon (Aldershot, Ashgate. 2008) and he has contributed to the following publications: The End that Does: Art, Science, and Millennial Accomplishment (Equinox
Publishers, London. 2006) and Biblical Exegesis and the Emergence of Science (Palgrave/MacMillan. 2007).

McKnight Land-Grant Professorship Program

Steve Matthews Website


Written by communication major Ann Lichtenberg

UMD home page editor, Cheryl Reitan,
NEW RELEASES, UMD media contact, Susan Latto,, 218-726-8830

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