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Department of History
Tufts University
East Hall, room 107
Medford, MA 02155

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Alisha Rankin
Assistant Professor of History
Early Modern Europe


I joined the Tufts history department in January 2008. Previously I had spent three years as a Junior Research Fellow at Trinity College, University of Cambridge. As much as I enjoyed England, I was delighted to return to the Boston area, which has felt like home to me for many years: I received my Ph.D. from Harvard University in 2005 and my B.A. from Wellesley College in 1996. It now feels as if I never left.

My broad research interests include early modern European history (c. 1450-1700), the history of science and medicine, and women's history. My first book, Panaceia's Daughters: Noblewomen as Healers in Early Modern Germany, examines German princesses who became widely known and admired for their medical knowledge in the sixteenth century – and particularly for making medicinal cures. It is currently in the final production stages and will be published by the University of Chicago Press in early 2013. I also co-edited a collection of essays titled Secrets and Knowledge in Medicine and Science, 1500-1800, which was published by Ashgate Press in 2011. In addition, I have started a new book project on wonder drugs, poison antidotes, and panaceas in early modern Europe, and I have published two articles on the topic.

My courses cover my range of research interests. I have developed courses on Renaissance and Reformation Europe; gender and family; medieval and early modern medicine; and the history of the book. I also teach a survey course called Science and Technology in World History as part of the IR Core.

Outside of work, most of my time is devoted to my two young boys. We live very close to the Tufts campus, and you may see my toddler running around on the President's Lawn now and then. When I have time, I also very much enjoy hiking, cross-country skiing, cooking, and especially baking. Students in my seminars are sometimes beneficiaries of my baking experiments.


Early Modern Europe, the History of Science and Medicine, Women's History, the History of the Body and Sexuality


  • Faculty Research Awards Committee Fellowship, Tufts University, 2010-11.
  • Junior Research Fellowship in History, Trinity College, Cambridge, 2004-8
  • Dissertation Finishing Grant, Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, 2004-5
  • Dissertation Research Fellowship, American Institute of the History of Pharmacy, 2003-4
  • Mellon Fellowship for Dissertation Research in Original Sources, 2002-3
  • Wellesley College Eugene Cox Fellowship for Dissertation Research, 2002-3
  • Fulbright Fellowship for the Study of History in Germany, 1996-7


  • Shryock Medal, American Association for the History of Medicine, 2005
  • Bok Center Certificate of Distinction in Teaching, Harvard University, 2002

Major Publications

  • Panaceia's Daughters: Noblewomen as Healers in Early Modern Germany (University of Chicago Press, forthcoming 2013).
  • Secrets and Knowledge in Medicine and Science, 1500-1800, co-edited with Elaine Leong (Ashgate Press, 2011).
  • “How to Cure the Golden Vein: Medical Remedies as Wissenschaft in Early Modern Germany,” in Ways of Making and Knowing: The Material Culture of Empirical Knowledge, edited by Pamela H. Smith et. al. (University of Michigan Press, 2012).
  • “Empirics, Physicians, and Wonder Drugs in Early Modern Germany: The Case of the Panacea Amwaldina,” Early Science and Medicine, 14 (2009): 680-710.
  • "Duchess, Heal Thyself: Elisabeth of Rochlitz and the Patient's Perspective in Early Modern Germany," Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 82 (2008): 109-44.
  • "Becoming an Expert Practitioner: Court Experimentalism and the Medical Skills of Anna of Saxony (1532-85)," Isis: Journal of the History of Science Society, 98 (March 2007): 23-53.