Al Coppola
Associate Professor
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PhD  Fordham University
MA New York University
BA Yale University

Professor Coppola studies the innovations of the 18th century that structure the 21st, with a special interest in the roles that science, spectacle, and quantification played in the culture of the long eighteenth century.  His first book, The Theater of Experiment: Staging Natural Philosophy in Eighteenth-Century Britain, was published by Oxford University Press in 2016.  A critical study of science in performance and science as performance in the Enlightenment, the book analyzes both the role of spectacle in the creation and verification of natural facts and the ways in which science was itself performed in both domestic and theatrical spaces.

Professor Coppola is currently at work on a new book project, Enlightenment Visibilities, which explores the long legacy of Enlightenment technologies and strategies that rendered into certain knowledge previously invisible, unknowable and ephemeral phenomena.  Emerging from a revisionist study of the history of microscopy that was published in a special issue of The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation, Enlightenment Visibilities spans geographies and centuries to trace the life and afterlife of the new science's dream of total knowledge and power, from early modern scientific instruments, to Enlightenment mathesis and system-building, to the 21st century drone state and Big Data.  Drafts of the first chapter, “Quantified Bodies,” a study of the origins of quantification in physiology through shifting conceptions of the pulse as a diagnostic indicator, have been presented at the Smithsonian Institution,  the Cambridge University Department of the History of Science, the McMaster University English and Cultural Studies Visiting Speaker Series, and the Seton Hall University Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere, as well as at meetings of the Society for Science, Literature and the Arts and the American Society of Eighteenth-Century Studies.

With scholarly interests that also include theater history, pantomime, satire, and the history of the book, Professor Coppola has published articles on Aphra Behn’s Emperor of the Moon and the Restoration 'culture of spectacle' (Eighteenth-Century Studies);  Eliza Haywood and the book trade's influence on the codification of her collected Works (1850: Ideas, Aesthetics, and Inquiries in the Early Modern World); the Harlequin Doctor Faustus pantomimes’ relationship to popular Newtonianism in the 1720s (The Stage’s Glory: John Rich, 1692-1761 [Univ. of Delaware Press, 2011]); and the cosmology of Thomas Burnet’s Sacred Theory of the Earth (World-Building and the Early Modern Imagination [Palgrave, 2010]).

Professor Coppola sits on the editorial board of Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Theater Research, and he is a co-founder of the Science Studies Caucus of the American Society of Eighteenth-Century Studies. Between 2010 and 2016, he chaired the Columbia University Seminar in Eighteenth-Century European Culture, whose schedule of events is found here:

 Professor Coppola can be followed on social media at @AlCoppola on and on Twitter at @Oh_Its_Just_Al.