John Carson

Visiting Scholar
Visiting Scholars are established scholars, as evidenced by significant publications and broad academic experience, spending a fixed term as guests at the MPIWG for research purposes. They may be externally funded or receive a Research Fellowship from the MPIWG.
Department II
PhD, Associate Professor, University of Michigan
September 1, 2017 to May 31, 2018

John Carson is Associate Professor of History at the University of Michigan.  He received his PhD in History (of Science) from Princeton University in 1994, and has held postdoctoral fellowships at the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, the Department of Science & Technology Studies at Cornell University, the National Humanities Center, the Wellesley College Newhouse Center for the Humanities, the Wissenschaftskolleg, and the MPIWG.  John’s current research project explores the development and deployment of the medico-legal category “unsoundness of mind” (non compos mentis) in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. His publications include The Measure of Merit: Talents, Intelligence, and Inequality in the French and American Republics, 1750–1940 (2007), winner of the 2010 Cheiron Book prize; “Mental Testing in the Early Twentieth Century: Internationalizing the Mental Testing Story,” History of Psychology 17 (2014); and “Differentiating a Republican Citizenry: Talents, Human Science, and Enlightenment Theories of Governance”(2002), winner of the 2003 Best Article Award of the Forum for the History of the Human Sciences.  John is currently on the editorial board of History of Psychology and was formerly on the board of Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences. He has also organized a digital history workshop series at the University of Michigan.

July 2017
Conference, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, International Congress on the History of Science and Technology
“Quantifying the ‘Normal Mind’”
March 2014
Colloquium, Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin
“A Difficult Father, a Dutiful Daughter, and £40,000: Contesting Mental Soundness in English (and American) Civil Law, 1745–1830”
May 2012
Conference, Huntington Library, Genealogies of Genius Conference
“Equality, Inequality, and Difference: Genius as Problem and Possibility in American Political/Scientific Discourse”


Max Planck Institute for the History of Science 
Boltzmannstraße 22 
14195 Berlin 

Curriculum Vitae