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Mackenzie Cooley

Mackenzie Cooley
Mackenzie Cooley

Assistant Professor of History

On leave, fall 2021, spring 2022

One strand of Mackenzie Cooley’s work considers the history of ideas in Renaissance Italy and the Spanish Empire, especially the role that practice and experience played in informing theories about nature. Another strand focuses on history with science, particularly the ways in which genetics and bioarchaeological evidence can provide new datasets for historians to transcend archival sources.

Cooley’s current book project, Artifice Embodied: Perfecting Renaissance Nature and the Invention of Race, traces ideas of animal breeding, inheritance, and race to analyze how projects for bringing the Old World to the New intersected with utopian trends in Renaissance thought.

She founded the Natural Things|Ad Fontes Naturae research group in global natural history. Her research has been supported by the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Council on Library and Information Resources, Fulbright Foundation, Mellon Foundation, and Renaissance Society of America.

Cooley earned her doctorate and master's degree from Stanford University, where she specialized in early modern history and history of science. After her doctorate, she joined the Cornell University Society of Fellows as a Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow.

Recent Courses Taught

Conquest of the Americas
Scientific Revolution
History of European Thought, 1345-1789
History of European Thought, 1789 to the Present
Race and the Origins of the Modern World

Research Interests

History of Science; Early Modern World; Colonial Latin America; Environmental History; History of Gender and Sexuality; Animal Studies; Genetics and History

Select Publications

  • Artifice Embodied: Perfecting Renaissance Nature and the Invention of Race (in progress)
  • “Southern Italy and the New World in the Age of Encounters.” The Discovery of the New World in Early Modern Italy. Elizabeth Horodowich and Lia Markey, eds. Cambridge University Press. 2017.
  • “Nobility and Horsemanship in Renaissance Italy.” Animals at Court, Mark Hengerer and Nadir Weber, eds. De Gruyter, forthcoming 2018.
  • Beasts and Books: Catalogue of an Exhibition of Rare Books and Manuscripts in Stanford Libraries' Special Collections. Stanford: Stanford University Libraries, 2015. Preface by Paula Findlen.
  • Academic Translation The History of Tlaxcala by Diego Muñoz Camargo: A Critical Edition (in progress with initial draft to be completed 2018)

Professional Affiliations

Renaissance Society of America
History of Science Society
Southwest Seminar on Latin American History
American Historical Association 

Appointed to the Faculty: 2018

Educational Background

Ph.D., Stanford University
M.A., Stanford University
B.A., Cornell University


Animal Empires: The Perfection of Nature Between Europe and the Americas, 1492-1630
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