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Ada Palmer

Associate Professor

Early Modern European History and the College, University of Chicago

Ada Palmer is a historian focusing on the history of censorship and radical thought, especially the ways censorship evolves and changes during revolutions in information technology, from the print revolution to the digital. An Associate Professor in the History Department with affiliations in Classics, Gender Studies, and the Institute on the Formation of Knowledge, she works broadly on the history of science, religion, heresy, freethought, atheism, censorship, books, printing, and long-term European history, especially the Renaissance and Enlightenment. Her current research focuses on how studying the print revolution can help lawmakers and corporations make wiser choices today during the digital revolution, while her first academic book Reading Lucretius in the Renaissance (2014) explores the impact of the rediscovery of classical atomism on the development of modern science and thought.

She is also a science fiction and fantasy novelist, author of the award-winning Terra Ignota series beginning with Too Like the Lightning (Tor Books), which explores a twenty-fifth century civilization of voluntary citizenship and borderless nations, written in the style of an eighteenth-century philosophical novel. She is a disability activist with a focus on self-care training and invisible disability, a composer of polyphonic a cappella music, studies anime and manga, works as a consultant for anime and manga publishers, blogs for Tor.com, and writes the history, philosophy and travel blog ExUrbe.com, which hosts her recent essay on the question "If the Black Death caused the Renaissance will COVID-19 cause a golden age?" and her celebrated guide to how to find good gelato anywhere in the world, once featured in The Economist. 

Baidoa, Somalia

Makeshift, temporary shelter made of plastic and clothing at a refugee center in Baidoa, Somalia.