Hannah Marcus

Hannah Marcus

Associate Professor of the History of Science

Areas of Research: Early Modern Science and Medicine

Hannah Marcus is an assistant professor in the Department of the History of Science. Her research focuses on the scientific culture of early modern Europe between 1400 and 1700.

Marcus’s first book, Forbidden Knowledge: Medicine, Science, and Censorship in Early Modern Italy (University of Chicago Press, 2020), explores the censorship of medical books from their proliferation in print through the prohibitions placed on many of these texts during the Counter-Reformation. This account explains how and why the books prohibited by the Catholic Church in Italy ended up back on the shelves of private and public Italian libraries in the seventeenth century. Her second book, Methuselah’s Children: The Renaissance Discovery of Old Age, is a study of ideas about longevity and experiences of advanced old age in a period when the average life expectancy was 35. She is also writing a book with Paula Findlen about Galileo’s correspondence called Galileo’s Letters: Experiments in Friendship, which grows out of their collaboration on The Galileo Correspondence Project. Her public writing has appeared in The New York Times, Scientific American, and The Conversation, among other venues.

Marcus earned her BA at the University of Pennsylvania and her PhD at Stanford University in 2016. Before coming to Harvard, she worked as a postdoctoral researcher on the Galileo Correspondence Project, which she directs with Paula Findlen.

Marcus teaches courses on the changes in scientific ideas and practice between the medieval and early modern periods, especially focusing on the early history of science, medicine, and the body, communication technologies, and the relationship between faith and science.



Forbidden Knowledge: Medicine, Science, and Censorship in Early Modern Italy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2020.

Camilla Erculiani, Letters on Natural Philosophy, edited by Eleonora Carinci, translated by Hannah Marcus. University of Toronto Press series “The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe.” Forthcoming fall 2020.

Articles (selected)

(with Paula Findlen), “Deciphering Galileo: Communication and Secrecy Before and After the Trial,” Renaissance Quarterly 72 (2019): 953–95.

“The Mind of the Censor: Girolamo Rossi, a Physician and Censor for the Congregation of the Index,” Early Science and Medicine 23 (2018): 14-33.


“Expurgated Books as an Archive of Practice,” The Archive Journal (August 2017), online at http://www.archivejournal.net/essays/expurgated-books-as-an-archive-of-practice/.


(with Paula Findlen), “The Breakdown of Galileo's Roman Network: Crisis and Community, c. 1633,” Social Studies of Science (2017), Vol. 47(3), pp. 326-352.

“Bibliography and Book Bureaucracy: Reading Licenses and the Circulation of Prohibited Books in Counter-Reformation Italy,” The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, Vol. 110, No. 4 (Dec. 2016), pp. 433-457.

(with Paula Findlen), “Science Under Inquisition: Heresy and Knowledge in Catholic Reformation Rome,” Isis 103 (June 2012), pp. 376-382.


Contact Information

p: (617) 495-2298


Faculty Areas of Research