John Carson

Visiting Scholar (Sep 2017-Mai 2018)

PhD, Associate Professor, University of Michigan

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.


Between Law and Science: Unsoundness of Mind in Anglo-American Medical Jurisprudence


No projects were found for this scholar.

Selected Publications

Carson, J. (2014). Mental testing in the early twentieth century: internationalizing the mental testing story. History of Psychology, 17(3), 249-255.


Carson, J. (2012). Has Psychology ‘Found Its True Path’? Methods, Objectivity, and Cries of ‘Crisis’ in Early Twentieth-Century French Psychology. Studies in the History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, (43), 445-454.


Carson, J. (2007). The Measure of Merit: Talents, Intelligence, and Inequality in the French and American Republics, 1750-1940. Princeton: Princeton University Press.


Carson, J. (2004). The Science of Merit and the Merit of Science: Mental Order and Social Order in Early Twentieth-Century France and America. In S. Jasanoff (Ed.), States of Knowledge: The Co-Production of Science and Social Order. London:…


Presentations, Talks, & Teaching Activities

“Quantifying the ‘Normal Mind’”

Conference, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, International Congress on the History of Science and Technology

“A Difficult Father, a Dutiful Daughter, and £40,000: Contesting Mental Soundness in English (and American) Civil Law, 1745–1830”

Colloquium, Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin

“Equality, Inequality, and Difference: Genius as Problem and Possibility in American Political/Scientific Discourse”

Conference, Huntington Library, Genealogies of Genius Conference