I am the Perkins-Cotsen Postdoctoral Fellow in the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts and a Lecturer in History at Princeton University. I received my Ph.D. in History from Rutgers University, and a BA and MA from the University of Alabama. Headshot I am a cultural historian of medieval and early modern Europe with broad research interests in the history of medicine and science, the history of gender and the body, and the history of material texts. In my research and teaching, I am particularly interested in tracing how elite or learned cultures of medical and scientific knowledge are conveyed to ‘ordinary’ people through non-elite media, and in turn, how access to this knowledge brought about cultural change. I am currently at work on my first book, based on my dissertation, titled How To: Reading Medicine and Science in England, 1400–1600. I compare over 150 vernacular medieval ‘how-to’ manuscripts with over 250 printed ‘how-to’ books to demonstrate that engagement with popular medical and scientific books transformed how ordinary English people understood the possibilities of knowledge itself.

I’ve published or have scholarly articles forthcoming in the Journal of British Studies and in Social History of Medicine. I’ve also written about a little known early modern epidemic and about lessons to be learned from pre-modern reproductive medicine in the Washington Post. I am a longtime contributor and editorial team member for the scholarly blog, The Recipes Project, where I’ve written on perpetual prognostications, reproductive medical recipes, and playful magic in medieval recipe books. My research has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, the Richard III Society and the Medieval Academy of America, the Folger Shakespeare Library, and the Rare Books School at the University of Virginia.


Email: melissa.reynolds(at)princeton.edu
Twitter: @melkatrey
GitHub: melissabreynolds