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Dr Xiaona Wang

I am a historian of early modern science, with particular interests in scientific, philosophical, medical, and religious thought in early modern Europe. I joined the Centre for the Study of the Renaissance in 2021 as a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow, working on a three-year project entitled “From Falling Bodies to Orbiting Planets: A New History of Gravitational Theories in Europe (c. 1200–1800)”. Previously, I received my PhD from Edinburgh University in 2019; I have also held fellowships at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, the Warburg Institute, the Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel, and at Edinburgh’s Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities.



Leverhulme ECF Project (2021-2024)

The history of pre-Einsteinian gravitational theories has been almost entirely focused on the work and influence of Isaac Newton. To challenge the Newtonocentrism that dominated older histories, my Leverhulme ECF project is a history of ideas about gravity from around 1200 up to 1800 that addresses the conceptual, methodological, and disciplinary aspects of key theories; relates them to religious and metaphysical concerns; and situates them in several relevant intellectual traditions. Although the focus of my project will be on gravitational concepts, I will also pay attention to the ways in which theorists made use of supporting instrumental evidence, and I will analyse how ideas were circulated in letters, journals and books throughout Europe.


Research interests

  • Early Modern Science, Medicine and Philosophy
  • Renaissance Occult Sciences
  • Science and Religion
  • Francis Bacon; John Wallis; Isaac Newton
  • Newtonianism in the Eighteenth Century
  • Global History of Science


  • 2019 PhD in Science and Technology Studies, University of Edinburgh
  • 2014 MSc in Intellectual History, University of Edinburgh


Selected Publications


Co-ed. Volume:

  • Supernovae, Comets and Aristotelian Cosmology: A Collapse of Philosophical Paradigms and the Birth of the New Sciences, 15721687, ed. with David McOmish (Turnhout: Brepols, under production)

Research Articles:

Encyclopaedia entry:


  • Agassiz, The Continuing Revolution: A History of Physics from the Greeks to Einstein (McGraw-Hill, 1968), translated into Chinese, (Xiangtan: Hunan Science and Technology Press, 2015).

Book Review:

  • William Poole, John Wilkins (1614-1672): New Essays, (Leiden: Brill, 2017), Annals of Science, Issue 03, (2018): 262-265.


Selected Conference and Seminar papers

  • August 2023, "The Japanese Maupertuis? French and Chinese Sources for Inō Tadataka's Geodetic Measurement", Consonances I: Mathematics, Language, and the Moral Sense of Nature Conference, Maynooth University, Dublin.
  • July 2023, "Evidence Making, Jesuit Missionaries, and the Shape of the Earth in Early Modern China", Leverhulme Global History of Science Workshop, Warwick.
  • November 2022, “An English Disciple of Galileo: John Wallis’s Gravitational Theories”, STVDIO Seminar Series, Warwick.
  • June 2022, "Upon Closer Inspection: The Comets of 1664 and 1665", Susan Manning workshop, "Supernovae, Comets and Aristotelian Cosmology" (co-organised with Dr David McOmish), Venice.
  • September 2020, “Disciples, Disciplines and the Disseminations of Newtonian science in 18th century Scotland”, IASH Work in Progress Talks, IASH, Edinburgh.
  • January 2020, “Francis Bacon on attractio and gravitas”, the Society for Renaissance Studies Seminar, The Warburg Institute, London.
  • October 2019, “Occult science and Newton’s natural Philosophy”, Intellectual History Research Group Work in Progress Seminar, IASH, Edinburgh.
  • September 2019: “From Geometrical Optics to Light Metaphysics: John Dee and his Astrological Physics in Early Modern England”, Thomas Harriot Seminar, Durham University.
  • June 2019, “John Dee’s Mathematical Natural Philosophy”, Scientiae annual conference at Queen’s University, Belfast.
  • May 2019, “Hooke and Newton on Vibrating Aether”, invited talk in All Souls College, Oxford.


Renaissance Europe I: Foundations and Forms, UG module, 2021-22, Convenor (with Dr Claudia Daniotti) and lecturer

Renaissance Europe II: Movement, Revolution and Conflict, UG module, 2021-22, Convenor (with Dr Claudia Daniotti) and lecturer

Methodology/Skills Sessions, PG module, 2021-2022, guest lecturer.