Alex Csiszar

Alex Csiszar

Professor of the History of Science
Alex Csiszar

Areas of Research: Material Culture, Media Studies, Philosophy of Science, Science & Technology Studies

Alex Csiszar researches the cultural politics of scientific publishing in France and Britain, with a focus on the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. He is currently completing a book on the history of the scientific journal which investigates how a more or less unified genre came to coalesce out of a plethora of other periodical genres and institutions during the first decades of the nineteenth century. It follows the rise of the apparatus of specialized publishing as it became the central authoritative institution through which to demarcate who was and who was not a scientist, and what did and did not count as authoritative knowledge.

Csiszar’s “Seriality and the Search for Order: Scientific Print and its Problems during the Late Nineteenth Century” - featured in the Wilson Quarterly (Winter 2010) -- is the basis of a second project that further charts the consequences of the rise of journals by the end of the nineteenth century, looking more closely at technologies for the management of print and of communication invented by scientists, states, and information entrepreneurs. The focus is on technologies and cultures of search, not simply as organizational tools, but as epistemological resources in fields such as zoology, mathematics, and anthropology. Alongside and through these projects, Csiszar has ongoing interests in the history of peer review, the history of intellectual property (focused on the history of scientific priority), the history of classification, as well as the paper-management practices of early modern scientific societies. Csiszar also has long-standing research interests in the French mathematician and philosopher Henri Poincaré.


  • History of Science 252. Sciences of History
  • History of Science 200. Studying the History of Science
  • History of Science 100: Knowing the World: An Introduction to the History of Science
  • History of Science 282. Genre and Knowledge
  • History of Science 185. Communicating Science: From Print Culture to Cybersocieties
  • History of Science 165. The Scientific Revolution
  • History of Science 282. Communications Media in the Sciences



"The Scientific Journal: Authorship and the Politics of Knowledge in the Nineteenth Century," University of Chicago Press, 2020

“How Lives Became Lists and Scientific Papers Became Data.” British Journal for the History of Science 50 (Forthcoming).

“Peer Review: Troubled from the start.” Nature, 2016, 532, 306-308.

“Q and A on the History of Retractions.” Retraction Watch, 2016.

“Objectivities in Print.” In Objectivity in Science, 145-169. Dordrecht: Springer, 2015.

“Review: Robert Fox, The Savant and the State.” Journal of Modern History 86, no. 3 (2014): 693-694.

“Bibliography as Anthropometry: Dreaming Scientific Order at the fin de siècle.” Library Trends 62, no. 2 (2013): 442-455.

“The Priority of Piracy [Review of Adrian Johns, Piracy : the intellectual property wars from Gutenberg to Gates].” Metascience 22, no. 3 (2013): 625-628.

“Serialität und die Suche nach Ordnung: Der wissenschaftliche Druck und seine Probleme während des späten 19. Jahrhunderts.” Zeitschrift für Medienwissenschaft 7 (2012): 19-46.

“Seriality and the Search for Order: Scientific Print and its Problems during the Late Nineteenth Century.” History of Science vol. 48, no. 3/4 (September/December 2010): 399-434

“Stylizing Rigor: or, Why Mathematicians Write So Well.” Configurations 11, no. 2 (2003): 239-268.


4/19/16: A new piece in Nature on the strange history of the scientific referee: "Peer Review: Troubled from the start".  And here it is in Spanish. (For more on the history of refereeing, "Objectivities in Print.")

3/14/16: Q&A on the history of scientific retractions at Retraction Watch.

Contact Information

p: (617) 496-5184