Cynthia J. Koepp

Professor of History
"I was drawn to study history because I am fascinated with the history of ideas. That many aspects of the past were different from our present gives me hope that other changes may be possible in our future. Some of my students love immersing themselves in the details of a different world, other people, and other eras. Many choose to study history because they understand that one cannot fully understand the present without knowing the past that produced it."
Macmillan 105

Professor Koepp's specific area of research is the 18th century European Enlightenment, especially looking at the changing notions and debates about work and leisure, education, and the organization of knowledge. In teaching, what she enjoys most is looking with students at an idea, concept, or event and discovering the historical conditions and actions that made it possible.


1971 B.A. (cum laude) The University of Toledo
1974 M.A. The University of Toledo, Philosophy
1978 M.A. Cornell University, History
1992 Ph.D. Cornell University, History

Select Publications

Recent Reviews:

Geraldine Sheridan, Louder Than Words: Ways of Seeing Women Workers in the Eighteenth-Century France for H-France Review. Vol. 10, No. 128, 2010.

S.R. Epstein and Maarten Prack, Guilds, Innovation, and the European Economy, 1400-1800. Cambridge, UK., 2008) for The Journal of Modern History, December 2010.


"Advocating for Artisans: The Abbé Pluche's Spectacle de la nature (1732-51) in The Idea of Work in Europe from Antiquity to Modern Times. Edited by Josef Ehmer and Catharina Lis. Ashage, 2009.

"Acknowledging Artisans and a New Social Order in Abbé Pluches's Spectacle de la nature," in The Chronicle (Princeton University), Vol. LXVIII, No. 3, (Fall 2008).

"Curiosity, Science, and Experiential Learning in the Abbé Pluche's, Spectacle de la Nature," in Seen and Heard: the Child in Early Modern Europe. Edited by Andrea Immel and Michael Witmore, London: Routledge, 2006.

"Making Money: Artisans and Entrepreneurs in Diderot's Encyclopédie," in Using the Encyclopédie: Ways of Knowing, Ways of Reading. edited by Daniel Brewer and Julie C. Hayes for Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2002 .

"Before Liberty: The Ideology of Work, Taste, and the Social Order," in Naissances des libertés économiques: Liberté du travail et liberté d'entreprendres: Le décret d'Allard et le loi Le Chapelier. Leurs conséquences 1791-fin dix neuvième siècle. Edited by Alain Plessis, Paris: Ministère de l'interieur et du developpement industriel, 1994.


"Work in France: Representations, Meaning, Organization and Practice, edited with Steven L. Kaplan. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1986.

Nature, Pedagogy, and the Popular Enlightenment: working title for current project.

Courses Taught

Enlightenment and the French Revolution
Popular Culture in Early Modern Europe
Introduction to the History of Science, antiquity to 1900
The Growth of Industrial Society, 1750-present
The Bourgeois Era
A Social History of Food and Eating
Writing History: Theory and Practice
Colonial Encounters
A History of Women in Europe, 1450 - present
From the Plague to AIDS: A Cultural History Disease and Epidemics
Introduction to World History, antiquity to present
20th Century Europe

Wells College promises a relevant liberal arts and sciences education. Intellectually challenging. Reinterpreted for today. Classroom teaching combined with hands-on learning. Wells graduates enter the world prepared for successful futures.

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