My biography of Emil du Bois-Reymond, the most important forgotten intellectual of the nineteenth century, received an Honorable Mention for History of Science, Medicine, and Technology at the 2013 PROSE Awards, was shortlisted for the 2014 John Pickstone Prize (Britain’s most prestigious award for the best scholarly book in the history of science), and was named by the American Association for the Advancement of Science as one of the Best Books of 2014.


Princeton University                 1996                 Ph.D.                History

Princeton University                 1989                 M.A.                 History

Amherst College                       1985                 B.A.                  Physics

Other Publications



2013                 Emil du Bois-Reymond: Neuroscience, Self, and Society in Nineteenth-Century Germany.        Cambridge; London: The MIT Press


Refereed Articles and Chapters


2016                 “Response to Richards.” Debates in Nineteenth-Century European Philosophy: Essential Readings and Contemporary Responses. Ed.Kristin Gjesdal. New York; London: Routledge, 226-230


2015                 “Mechanical Neuroscience: Emil du Bois-Reymond’s Innovations in Theory and Practice.” Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience9, no. 130 (30 September): 1-4.


2015                 “The Mountains and the Sea: Travel as Discovery in the Lives of Emil du Bois-Reymond and Ernst Haeckel.” Chronica Mundi9, no. 1, 182-192


2014                 “Emil du Bois-Reymond’s Reflections on Consciousness.” In Brain, Mind, and Consciousness in the History of Neuroscience, ed. Chris Smith and Harry Whitaker, ch. 10, 163-184. Dordrecht; Heidelberg; New York; London: Springer


2014                 “Emil du Bois-Reymond on ‘The Seat of the Soul.’” Journal of the History of the Neurosciences 23, no. 1 (January-March): 45-55.


2012                 Autorité rhétorique: Claude Bernard et Émile du Bois-Reymond.” In Les élèves de Claude Bernard: Les nouvelles disciplines bernardiennes au tournant du XXesiècle, ed. Jean-Gäel Barbara and Pierre Corvol, 173-192. Paris: Éditions Hermann


2011                 “Matteucci and du Bois-Reymond: A Bitter Rivalry.” Archives Italiennes de Biologie: A Journal of Neuroscience 149, no. 4 (December): 29-37.


2006                 “Emil du Bois-Reymond vs Ludimar Hermann.” Comptes rendus Biologies329, nos. 5-6 (May-June): 340-347.


2003                 “M. du Bois-Reymond Goes to Paris.” British Journal for the History of Science36, no. 3 (September): 261-300.


2001                         “Romanticism, Race, and Recapitulation.” Science294, no. 5549 (7 December): 2101-2102. 


2000                 “‘Conquerors of the Künlün’? The Schlagintweit Mission to High Asia, 1854-57.” History of Science38, pt. 2, no. 120 (June): 179-218.


Publications in Refereed Conference Proceedings


2004                 “Marriage and Science in Nineteenth Century Berlin: Emil du Bois-Reymond’s Correspondence with Jeannette Claude.” In La Mediazione matrimoniale: Il Terzo (in)comodo in Europa fra Otto e Novecento, ed. Bruno P. F. Wanrooij, 195-219. Biblioteca di Storia sociale, 32. Fiesole: Georgetown University; Rome: Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura


2001                         “Vom Vorzug der Rückständigkeit.” In Darwinismus und/als Ideologie, ed. Uwe Hoßfeld and Rainer Brömer, 109-115. Verhandlungen zur Geschichte und Theorie der Biologie, vol. 6. Berlin: VWB—Verlag für Wissenschaft und Bildung. (German version of “Why Darwin was English.”) http://www.vwb-verlag.com/Katalog/m384.html



2000                         “Kultur-Evolution bei Emil du Bois-Reymond.” In Evolutionsbiologie von Darwin bis heute, ed. Rainer Brömer, Uwe Hoßfeld, and Nicolaas A. Rupke, 131-135. Verhandlungen zur Geschichte und Theorie der Biologie, vol. 4. Berlin: VWB—Verlag für Wissenschaft und Bildung. (German version of “The Ascent of Man.”) http://www.geschichte-der-biologie.de/publikation_5.php

Blog Posts


    Currently I am working on a study of the challenges that “scientific historians” presented to discipline of history during the 1860s and 1870s.

    Upcoming Talks and Conferences

    2018                 “The Non-Humboldtian Revolution in Botany.” History of Science Society Annual Meeting, Seattle, 3 November.


    History of Science Society

    German Studies Association

    American Historical Association

    Gabriel Finkelstein

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