The Committee on the Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science (CHSS) is an interdisciplinary graduate program dedicated to the study of the history, philosophy, and social relations of science. Read more…


September 1, 2016

A memorial service for Alison Winter will be held on November 2nd, at 4:00 p.m., in Rockefeller Chapel on the University of Chicago Campus.

June 23, 2016

Our colleague Alison Winter, Professor of History, died last night.  Her connections to the University of Chicago ran deep.  In 1983, she came to the University as an undergraduate from Ann Arbor, where her father taught mathematics at the University of Michigan.  He hoped she would major in science; she wanted to major in English literature.  The compromise was history of science, but the compromise quickly became a passion.  She was determined to undertake further study in England, and moved there shortly after graduation, serving as a barmaid while writing fellowship applications.  She was awarded a National Science Foundation fellowship, among others, to attend Cambridge University in history of science.  During graduate studies she met and married our colleague Adrian Johns, and both became fellows of St. John’s College.  Alison received her Ph.D. from Cambridge’s Department of History and Philosophy of Science in 1993.  She was hired the next year as an assistant professor at the California Institute of Technology, and received tenure there a short four years later with the publication of Mesmerized: Powers of Mind in Victorian Britain (Chicago, 1998). 

Alison returned to Chicago in 2001 where both she and Adrian were appointed associate professors in the Department of History and in the Committee on Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science.   She was dedicated to supporting the next generation of scholars, producing several Ph.D. students and mentoring numerous post-doctoral fellows in the Clinical Medical Ethics program.  Her devotion to undergraduate teaching in history of medicine, in film, in gender studies, and in Victorian literature won praise from a large number of students, many of whom became lasting friends.  Both students and colleagues delighted in her genial and witty style, which she maintained even when engaged in pointed intellectual exchange.  Her research won her several prestigious fellowships, including a Guggenheim in 2002, and produced a second book, Memory:  Fragments of a Modern History (Chicago, 2012), winner of the Laing Prize from the University of Chicago Press.   

Alison’s glioblastoma was diagnosed shortly before Christmas.  Alison understood the nature of the disease from which she suffered, yet she remained in remarkable spirits, even compiling notes for a book on her experience that she hoped to write with the help of a former student.  During her ordeal, she had the support and love of her husband, their four young children, her parents, stepparents, and brother, along with the many colleagues and friends who visited during the period of her illness.  We share in the family's grief, and in Alison’s memory.


June 7, 2016

In September of 2016, the University of Chicago Press will be releasing a new book co-authored by Professor Robert J. Richards and Michael Ruse (Florida State), titled Debating Darwin.

Charles Darwin is easily the most famous scientist of the modern age, and his theory of evolution is constantly referenced in many contexts by scientists and nonscientists alike. And yet, despite how frequently his ideas are evoked, there remains a surprising amount we don’t know about the father of modern evolutionary thinking, his intellectual roots, and the science he produced. Debating Darwin seeks to change that, bringing together two leading Darwin scholars—Robert J. Richards and Michael Ruse—to engage in a spirited and insightful dialogue, offering their interpretations of Darwin and their critiques of each other’s thinking.

Please click here to view the book at the University of Chicago Press.

May 1, 2016

Yesterday, a graduate of the Committee (when it was CFS), Sean (Hsiang-lin) Lei, was awarded the William Welch Medal for his book Neither Donkey nor Horse.  The medal was awarded at the meeting of the American Association for the History of Medicine.  The book is based on his doctoral dissertation.  It examines the way traditional Chinese medicine became a vehicle for modernization in China at the beginning of the twentieth century.  The book is published by University of Chicago Press.

Please click here to view the book at the University of Chicago Press.

For a full listing of upcoming CHSS events, including SOIT, the HHS workshops, and the HPS workshops, please click here.