J.D. Fleming



  • BA (British Columbia)
  • MA (Toronto)
  • PhD (Columbia)


James Dougal Fleming studies aspects and concepts of hermeneutics: the theory, practice, and history of interpretation. His historical focus is early-modern (ca. 1500-1700), with a particular interest in the period’s emergent sciences. His current project is a reading of the seventeenth-century movement for a “real character”—an “objective” writing system, based on a then-scientific ontology—as an illuminating episode in the history of information technology. In 2012, he co-founded the international conference series Scientiae: Disciplines of Knowing in the Early Modern World .


This instructor is currently not teaching any courses.

Selected Publications

  • The Mirror of Information in Early Modern England: John Wilkins and the Universal Character (Palgrave, 2016).
  • “‘Not a hundred sorts of beasts, not two hundred of birds’: Universal language and the early modern end of the world.” In Knowing Nature in Early Modern Europe, ed. David Beck (Pickering and Chatto, 2015), 9-27.
  • (Ed.) Papers from Scientiae: Disciplines of Knowing in the Early-Modern World. Intellectual History Review 24.1 (2014).   
  • (Ed. and intro.) The Invention of Discovery, 1500-1700: Humanism, Science, Hermeneutics (Ashgate, 2011).
  • Milton’s Secrecy and Philosophical Hermeneutics (Ashgate, 2008).
  • “Making Sense of Science and the Literal: Modern Semantics, Early-Modern Hermeneutics.” In The Word and the World: Biblical Exegesis and Early Modern Science, eds Peter Forshaw and Kevin Killeen (Palgrave, 2007), 45-60.
  •  “Prevent is not Prevent: Rape and Rhetoric in The Tempest.” Exemplaria 15 (Autumn 2003): 449-470.

Published Books