Laura J. Snyder

Last updated
Laura J. Snyder
Born 1964 (age 5354)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Occupation Writer
Nationality American
Alma mater Brandeis University
Johns Hopkins University
Notable awards · Fulbright Scholarship
· Mellon Fellowship
· Phi Beta Kappa
· Life Member, Clare Hall, Cambridge

Laura J. Snyder (born 1964) is an American historian, philosopher, and writer. She is a Fulbright Scholar and a Life Member of Clare Hall, Cambridge. She writes narrative-driven non-fiction books including, most recently, Eye of the Beholder: Johannes Vermeer, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, and the Reinvention of Seeing, which won the Society for the History of Technology's 2016 Sally Hacker Prize. [1] Snyder also writes for The Wall Street Journal and lives in New York City. She was a philosophy professor at St. John's University for twenty-one years.

Clare Hall, Cambridge college of the University of Cambridge

Clare Hall is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge, England. Founded in 1966 by Clare College, Clare Hall is a college for advanced study, admitting only postgraduate students alongside postdoctoral researchers and fellows. It was established to serve as an Institute of Advanced Studies and has slowly grown and developed into a full constituent college.

Society for the History of Technology

The Society for the History of Technology, or SHOT, is the primary professional society for historians of technology. SHOT was founded in 1958 in the United States, and it has since become an international society with members "from some thirty-five countries throughout the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Africa." SHOT owes its existence largely to the efforts of Professor Melvin Kranzberg (1917-1995) and an active network of engineering educators. SHOT co-founders include John B. Rae, Carl W. Condit, Thomas P. Hughes, and Eugene S. Ferguson. SHOT's flagship publication is the journal Technology and Culture, published by the Johns Hopkins University Press. Kranzberg served as editor of Technology and Culture until 1981, and was succeeded as editor by Robert C. Post until 1995, and John M. Staudenmaier from 1996 until 2010. The current editor of Technology and Culture is Suzanne Moon at the University of Oklahoma. SHOT is an affiliate of the American Council of Learned Societies and the American Historical Association and publishes a joint booklet series with the AHA, "Historical Perspectives on Technology, Society, and Culture," under the co-editorship of Pamela O. Long, Robert C. Post, and Asif Azam Siddiqi. Pamela O. Long is the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation "Genius Grant" for 2014.

<i>The Wall Street Journal</i> American business-focused daily broadsheet newspaper based in New York City

The Wall Street Journal is a U.S. business-focused, English-language international daily newspaper based in New York City. The Journal, along with its Asian and European editions, is published six days a week by Dow Jones & Company, a division of News Corp. The newspaper is published in the broadsheet format and online. The Journal has been printed continuously since its inception on July 8, 1889, by Charles Dow, Edward Jones, and Charles Bergstresser.



Snyder was born in New York City and grew up on Long Island, New York. She attended Syosset High School. In 1987, she received BA degrees from Brandeis University in philosophy and in the history of western thought. She received her PhD in philosophy from Johns Hopkins University in 1996. At Johns Hopkins she also completed a certificate program in the History and Philosophy of Science. [2]

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2017 population of 8,622,698 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 20,320,876 people in its 2017 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 23,876,155 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.

Syosset High School

Syosset High School (SHS), located in Syosset, New York, United States, in Nassau County on Long Island, is the only public high school for residents of the Syosset Central School District. As of 2012, the news magazine Newsweek ranked the high school 42nd best in the US. Syosset High School has been ranked #10 in New York by as of 2016.

Brandeis University private research university in Waltham, Massachusetts

Brandeis University is an American private research university in Waltham, Massachusetts, 9 miles (14 km) west of Boston. Founded in 1948 as a non-sectarian, coeducational institution sponsored by the Jewish community, Brandeis was established on the site of the former Middlesex University. The university is named after Louis Brandeis, the first Jewish Justice of the U.S Supreme Court.

Snyder became a Phi Beta Kappa member in 1987, received a Mellon Fellowship in 1997–98, was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship in 1998–99, and received a fellowship from the American Philosophical Society in 2004–05. She was elected a Life Member of Clare Hall, Cambridge University, in 1999. She joined the faculty of St. John's University in New York City in 1996, was promoted to full professor in 2012, and retired in 2017.

Phi Beta Kappa honor society for the liberal arts and sciences in the United States

The Phi Beta Kappa Society (ΦΒΚ) is the oldest academic honor society in the United States, and is often described as its most prestigious honor society, due to its long history and academic selectivity. Phi Beta Kappa aims to promote and advocate excellence in the liberal arts and sciences, and to induct the most outstanding students of arts and sciences at American colleges and universities. It was founded at the College of William and Mary on December 5, 1776 as the first collegiate Greek-letter fraternity and was among the earliest collegiate fraternal societies.

American Philosophical Society United States scholarly organization that promotes knowledge in the sciences and humanities

The American Philosophical Society (APS), founded in 1743 and located in Philadelphia, is an eminent scholarly organization of international reputation that promotes useful knowledge in the sciences and humanities through excellence in scholarly research, professional meetings, publications, library resources, and community outreach. Considered the first learned society in the United States, it has played an important role in American cultural and intellectual life for over 270 years.

St. Johns University (New York City) university in New York City, New York, United States

St. John's University is a private Catholic university in New York City. Founded and run by the Congregation of the Mission in 1870, the school was originally located in the neighborhood of Bedford–Stuyvesant in the borough of Brooklyn. In the 1950s, the school was relocated to its current site at Utopia Parkway in Hillcrest, Queens. St. John's also has campuses in Staten Island and Manhattan in New York City and overseas in Rome, Italy. In addition, the university has a Long Island Graduate Center in Hauppauge, along with academic locations in Paris, France, and Limerick, Ireland. The university is named after Saint John the Baptist.

Snyder has published numerous articles in scholarly journals including Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Science, and Perspectives on Science and in several edited volumes on the history and philosophy of science. Snyder was a steering committee member of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science (HOPOS) from 2003 to 2012 and its president in 2009 and 2010. She was a founding co-editor of the Society's journal HOPOS. [3]

<i>Perspectives on Science</i> journal

Perspectives on Science is a peer-reviewed academic journal that publishes contributions to science studies that integrate historical, philosophical, and sociological perspectives. The journal contains theoretical essays, case studies, and review essays. Perspectives on Science was established in 1993 and is published online and in hard copy by the MIT Press.

The International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science (HOPOS) is a philosophical organization for promoting the study of the history of philosophy of science. The society promotes exchange of ideas among scholars through meetings, journals, and online. It maintains an active email listserv, HOPOS-G.

Snyder lives in New York City.

Publications and Appearances

Snyder's most recent book, Eye of the Beholder: Johannes Vermeer, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, and the Reinvention of Seeing (2015) describes how artists and scientists in Holland in the 1600s changed the way we see the world. Snyder tells this story through the lens of the lives of two men who were born the same week in the small town of Delft: Johannes Vermeer and Antoni van Leeuwenhoek. It is published by W. W. Norton in North American and in the U.K. and Commonwealth by Head of Zeus. [4] The book won the Society for the History of Technology's 2016 Sally Hacker Prize. [5] (Prior winners include Rebecca Solnit and Eric Schlosser.) It was named one of the best art books of 2015 by Christie's [6] and Best Reads of 2015 by New Scientist. [7]

Delft City and municipality in South Holland, Netherlands

Delft is a city and municipality in the province of South Holland, Netherlands. It is located between Rotterdam, to the southeast, and The Hague, to the northwest. Together with them, it is part of both Rotterdam–The Hague metropolitan area and the Randstad.

Johannes Vermeer 17th-century Dutch painter

Johannes Vermeer was a Dutch Baroque Period painter who specialized in domestic interior scenes of middle-class life. He was a moderately successful provincial genre painter in his lifetime but evidently was not wealthy, leaving his wife and children in debt at his death, perhaps because he produced relatively few paintings.

Snyder's The Philosophical Breakfast Club: Four Remarkable Friends who Transformed Science and Changed the World (2011), an interleaved biography of Charles Babbage, John F.W. Herschel, William Whewell, and Richard Jones, was reviewed in The Wall Street Journal , [8] The Washington Post , [9] The Economist , [10] and other popular media outlets and science magazines. [11] The book was named an "Outstanding Title" by the American Library Association, a "Notable Book" by Scientific American, an "Official Selection" of the TED Book Club, and winner of the 2011 Royal Institution of Australia's Poll for Favorite Science Book. It has been translated into Italian and Chinese. [12]

Charles Babbage English mathematician, philosopher, inventor and mechanical engineer who originated the concept of a programmable computer

Charles Babbage was an English polymath. A mathematician, philosopher, inventor and mechanical engineer, Babbage originated the concept of a digital programmable computer.

William Whewell English philosopher & historian of science

Rev Dr William Whewell DD HFRSE was an English polymath, scientist, Anglican priest, philosopher, theologian, and historian of science. He was Master of Trinity College, Cambridge. In his time as a student there, he achieved distinction in both poetry and mathematics.

Richard Jones (economist) economist from England

Richard Jones was an English economist who criticised the theoretical views of David Ricardo and T. R. Malthus on economic rent and population.

Snyde's first book, Reforming Philosophy: A Victorian Debate on Science and Society, was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2006. [13]

Snyder was a speaker at TED Global in 2012 and gave the 2011 Dibner Library Lecture at the Smithsonian Institution. [14] She has appeared on radio shows and podcasts in the US, Canada, and U.K. She contributes book reviews and essays to the Wall Street Journal . [15] Her writings have also appeared in Slate and Harvard Magazine.

Partial List of Publications and Appearances

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Antonie van Leeuwenhoek Dutch tradesman and scientist

Antonie Philips van Leeuwenhoek FRS was a Dutch businessman and scientist in the Golden Age of Dutch science and technology. A largely self-taught man in science, he is commonly known as "the Father of Microbiology", and one of the first microscopists and microbiologists. Van Leeuwenhoek is best known for his pioneering work in microscopy and for his contributions toward the establishment of microbiology as a scientific discipline.

Ian Hacking Canadian philosopher

Ian MacDougall Hacking is a Canadian philosopher specializing in the philosophy of science. Throughout his career, he has won numerous awards, such as the Killam Prize for the Humanities and the Balzan Prize, and been a member of many prestigious groups, including the Order of Canada, the Royal Society of Canada and the British Academy.

Eye of the Beholder may refer to:

Peter Achinstein is an American philosopher of science at Johns Hopkins University.

The American Philosophical Association (APA) is the main professional organization for philosophers in the United States. Founded in 1900, its mission is to promote the exchange of ideas among philosophers, to encourage creative and scholarly activity in philosophy, to facilitate the professional work and teaching of philosophers, and to represent philosophy as a discipline.

Sara "Sally" Lynn Hacker was a feminist sociologist who investigated cultures surrounding technology. She was interested in how changes in technology affected gender stratification.

Philip Kitcher British philosopher

Philip Stuart Kitcher is a British philosophy professor who specialises in the philosophy of science, the philosophy of biology, the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of literature, and, more recently, pragmatism.

David Papineau is a British academic philosopher, born in Como, Italy. He works as Professor of Philosophy of Science at King's College London and the City University of New York Graduate Center having previously taught for several years at Cambridge University where he was a fellow of Robinson College.

<i>Journal des sçavans</i> French scholarly journal

The Journal des sçavans, established by Denis de Sallo, was the earliest academic journal published in Europe. Its content included obituaries of famous men, church history, and legal reports. The first issue appeared as a twelve-page quarto pamphlet on Monday, 5 January 1665. This was shortly before the first appearance of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, on 6 March 1665. The 18th-century French physician and encyclopédiste Louis-Anne La Virotte (1725–1759) was introduced to the journal through the protection of chancellor Henri François d'Aguesseau.

Women have engaged in philosophy throughout the field's history. While there were women philosophers since ancient times, and a relatively small number were accepted as philosophers during the ancient, medieval, modern and contemporary eras, particularly during the 20th and 21st century, almost no woman philosophers have entered the philosophical Western canon.

Stephen E. Braude is an American philosopher and parapsychologist. He is a past president of the Parapsychological Association, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Scientific Exploration, and a professor of philosophy at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

<i>Girl with a Pearl Earring</i> (novel) Book by Tracy Chevalier

Girl with a Pearl Earring is a 1999 historical novel written by Tracy Chevalier. Set in 17th-century Delft, Holland, the novel was inspired by local painter Johannes Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring. Chevalier presents a fictional account of Vermeer, the model and the painting. The novel was adapted into a 2003 film of the same name and a 2008 play.

Jeffrey A. Barrett is Chancellor's Professor in Logic and Philosophy of Science at the University of California, Irvine. He is known for his work on the measurement problem of quantum mechanics (why and how quantum systems collapse when one measures them), and particularly on the many-worlds interpretation of Hugh Everett.

<i>The Geographer</i> painting by Johannes Vermeer

The Geographer is a painting created by Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer in 1668–1669, and is now in the collection of the Städelsches Kunstinstitut museum in Frankfurt, Germany. It is closely related to Vermeer's The Astronomer, for instance using the same model in the same dress, and has sometimes been considered a pendant painting to it. A 2017 study indicated that the canvas for the two works came from the same bolt of material.

Sally Haslanger American philosopher

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Thomas Mormann is Professor of Philosophy at the University of the Basque Country in Donostia-San Sebastian, Spain. He obtained his PhD in Mathematics from the University of Dortmund (1978). He obtained his Habilitation from the University of Munich. He works in the philosophy of science, formal ontology, structuralism, Carnap studies, and neo-Kantianism.


  1. "The Sally Hacker Prize".
  2. "Laura J. Snyder".
  3. "The International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science".
  4. "Head of Zeus New Titles, January 2015–June 2015" (PDF).
  5. "The Sally Hacker Prize".
  6. "Christie's".
  7. "A Year in Books".
  8. Hirshfeld, Alan (February 26, 2011). "An Engine of Perpetual Motion". Wall Street Journal.
  9. Dirda, Michael (March 23, 2011). "Books: 'The Philosophical Breakfast Club' by Laura Snyder". The Washington Post.
  10. Chatfield, Tom (March 17, 2011). "Early Men of Science". The Economist.
  11. "Laura J. Snyder".
  12. "Laura J. Snyder".
  13. "Laura J. Snyder".
  14. "TED".
  15. "Laura J. Snyder".