Denise Phillips


Ph.D., Harvard University; 2004


In addition to teaching the second half of the Western Civilization sequence, Dr. Phillips offers courses in early modern German history, modern European intellectual and cultural history, and the history of science. Her own research deals with the cultural history of science in 18th- and 19th century German-speaking Europe.

Professor Phillips serves as an graduate advisor in modern German history, modern European intellectual history, and history of science.


  • Acolytes of Nature: Defining Natural Science in Germany, 1770-1850 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012).
  • “Trading Epistemological Insults: ’Positive Knowledge’ and Natural Science in Germany, 1800-1850,” in: Positivism, Power and Enlightenment: the Politicization of the Scientific World View, eds. Franz L. Fillafer and Jan Surman, forthcoming.
  • “Reconsidering the Sonderweg of German Science: Biology and Culture in the Nineteenth Century [Essay Review],” Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences 40:1 (2010): 136-147.
  • “Epistemological Distinctions and Cultural Politics: Educational Reform and the Naturwissenschaft/ Geisteswissenschaft Distinction in Nineteenth-Century Germany,” in: Historical Perspectives on “Erklären” and “Verstehen,” ed. Uljana Feest (Berlin: Springer, 2010), 15-35.
  • “Science, Myth and Eastern Souls: J. S. C. Schweigger and the Society for the Spread of Natural Knowledge and Higher Truth,” East Asian Science, Technology and Medicine, [Special Issue: Global Science and Comparative History: Jesuits, Science, and Philology in China and Europe, 1550–1850] 26 (2007): 40-67.
  • “Friends of Nature: Urban Sociability and Regional Natural History in Dresden, 1800–1850,” Osiris 18 (2003): 43-59.

Selected Honors and Awards

  • Fulbright Scholar Award, Spring and Summer 2012.
  • DAAD Research Visit Grant, Fall 2011
  • Herzog Ernst Fellowship of the Fritz Thyssen Foundation, August–September 2011
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship, 1998-2003
  • German Academic Exchange Service Research Grant, 2000
  • Mellon Graduate Fellowship in the Humanities, 1997-98
  • Fulbright Fellowship, 1996-97