- PhD, University of Chicago, 1993
- MA, University of Chicago, 1985
- BA, Bard College, 1983
A historian of both the human sciences and modern Europe, I am particularly interested in how societies in general – and German and European societies in particular – grapple with the questions and problems associated with modernity through the vehicles of science, technology, and medicine. My research has largely focused on the nature of power and the relationship between the state, science, and medicine in understanding and managing things such as disability, deviance, criminality, mental illness, and security. And I have finished a book examining the science and medicine of rehabilitating convicts in 20th century Germany. I also regularly write articles and present papers on the history of madness and psychiatry and will be editing a major volume on the world history of madness (published by Routledge Press). My teaching and research are motivated by an interest in making sense of the enormous promise, the often intractable challenges, and the ethical dilemmas facing modern states, societies, and individuals. My next big project is a global history of the phenomena of UFO sightings and alien contact.
The Routledge History of Madness and Mental Health (scheduled for publication in 2017)
The Corrigible and the Incorrigible: Science, Medicine, and the Convict in Twentieth-Century Germany (University of Michigan Press, 2015)
“Making UFOs Make Sense: Ufology, Science, and the History of Their Mutual Misunderstanding,” Public Understanding of Science (December 2015), early online version. Available at:
"A Drifting Concept for an Unruly Menace: A History of Psychopathy in Germany," Isis, 106 (2015): 283-309.
"'A Transatlantic Buzz': Flying Saucers, Extraterrestrials, and America in Postwar Germany," Journal of Transatlantic Studies, 12 (2014): 282-303.
From Madness to Mental Health: Psychiatric Disorder and its Treatment in Western Civilization (Rutgers University Press, 2010)
Awards and Service:
American Philosophical Society, Library Residential Fellowship (2015)
Committee for the Berlin Program for Advanced German and European Studies (2012-2015)
Steering Committee, Social Thought Program, Penn State University (since 2011)
Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) Recipient (2005)
National Science Foundation Grant Recipient (2003)
HIST103 - The History of Madness, Mental Illness, and Psychiatry
HIST124 - History of Western Medicine
- History of Monsters, Aliens, and the Supernatural
Hist 524 - Deviance, Crime, and Madness in Modern Europe:Social Theory and History