Associate Professor, Department of English

MHN 336

Office: 613-562-5800 ext. 1145

Work E-mail:


My current book project recovers a lost chapter in the history of writing, reading and print: the centrality of the concept of motion to debates about how texts worked in the world.  For much of the eighteenth century, writers turned to Aristotelian, Hobbesian and Newtonian models of motion to explain all kinds of change, from a chemical reaction to a poem’s influence on a reader’s passions.  My research examines how theories about motion intersected with theories about literary, social and political change in Enlightenment Britain.  I explore how changes in the conceptual status of motion helped shape the origins of the modern disciplinary chasm between the sciences and the humanities.

My desire to explore the historical continuities among the disciplines informs my teaching as well as my scholarship.  In my courses I encourage students to interrogate the modern separation between the sciences and the humanities.  We explore how subjects that we now assume to be entirely separate—such as poetry and physics—shared common ground in past time periods.

University Degrees

2009 – Ph.D., English Literature, New York University
2005 – M.A., English Literature, New York University
2002 – BA, Hons., English Literature, Vassar College

Fields of Interest

Eighteenth-century literature and culture
Historical epistemology 
Literature and science
Literature and theology


2009- Assistant Professor, University of Ottawa
2007-2008 Instructor, New York University


2015: SSHRC Insight Development Grant, "Science at the Margins 1660-1820", $74,874

2012 - Nominee, Capital Educator's Award


Articles in Refereed Journals

Landreth, Sara. ‘“Set His Image in Motion:’ John Dennis and Early Eighteenth-Century Motion Imagery”, Eighteenth-Century Life, 40.1 (January 2016), 59-83.

Landreth, Sara, "The Vehicle of the Soul: Motion and Emotion in Vehicular Narratives", Eighteenth-Century Fiction, 26 1, 93-120, 2013.

Landreth, Sara, "Breaking the Laws of Motion: Pneumatology and Belles Lettres in Enlightenment Britain", New Literary History, 43, 281-308, 2012.

Landreth, Sara, "Teaching Rasselas as Newtonianism: An Experiment in Virtual Conversation", Johnsonian News Letter, 64(2), 10-14, September 2007.

Landreth, Sara. “Evangelical Science: Hannah More on Mechanical Conduct and Vital Religion” (Under review). 

Refereed Chapters in Books

Landreth, Sara. “Defoe on Spiritual Communication, Action at a Distance, and the Mind in Motion” in Mind, Body, Motion, Matter: Eighteenth-Century British and French Literary Perspectives, eds. Mary Helen McMurran and Alison Conway (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2016) 165-196.  (Forthcoming, in press).

Landreth, Sara. “Science in the Long Eighteenth Century”, in The Cambridge Companion to Eighteenth-Century Thought, Ed. Frans De Bruyn. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).  (Forthcoming, accepted).

Recent conference papers

Invited Speaker at the MLA, Literary Science Roundtable, "Dennis and the Proto-disciplines", Vancouver, January 2015.

"Hannah More and the Mechanisms of Self-Control", CSECS (Canadian Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies): Montreal, October 2014

“Spiritual Communication in Defoe's Consolidator.” CSECS (Canadian Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies), London, ON, October 2013. 

“'Wind in the Brain:' Defoe and the Motions of Thought.” Enlightenment Constellations Symposium, University of Western Ontario, October 2013. 

“Pneumatology and Rhetoric: Redistributing Knowledge about Mind and Motion.” Modern Language Association (MLA) Annual Convention, Seattle, January 2012. 

“Motion and the Material Mind: Samuel Johnson on Pneumatology.” CSECS (Canadian Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies), McMaster University, October 2011. 

“Charting the Augustan Mind: Dennis and Newton.” CSECS (Canadian Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies), St. John, November 2010. 

“How Doctor Johnson Broke the Laws of Motion.” MLA Annual Convention, Philadelphia, December 2009. 

“The Motion of the Mind in Johnson’s Dictionary.” CSECS (Canadian Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies), Ottawa, November 2009.

Courses taught


ENG6361: Enlightenment Literature and the Science of the Mind
ENG6361: Self -Control: Automatism, Volition and the "Secret Springs", 1690-1799.


ENG4151 18th-Century Science Fiction and Science Fact 
ENG3356 18th-Century and Romantic Fiction
ENG3341 18th-Century Literature
ENG3340 17th-Century Literature
ENG1122 English Literature and Composition III: Before 1700

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