Department of History and the College
Michael Rossi is a historian of medicine and science in the United States from the 19th century to the present. His work focuses on the historical and cultural metaphysics of the body: how different people at different times understood questions of beauty, truth, falsehood, pain, pleasure, goodness, and reality vis-à-vis their corporeal selves and those of others.
His first book manuscript traces the origins of color science—the physiology, psychology, and physics of color—in the late 19th century United States to a series of questions about what modern America ought to be: about the scope of medical, scientific, and political authority over the sensing body; the nature of aesthetic, physiological, and cultural development between individual and civilization; and the relationship between aesthetic harmony, physiological balance, and social order. His second project looks at how linguists, anatomists, and speech pathologists moved, over the course of the 20th century, from viewing language as a function of sound-producing organs (tongue, lips, palate, larynx, etc.) to searching for a notional “language organ” within the brains of all human beings.
Rossi received a PhD in the history and anthropology of science, technology, and society from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a BA from Columbia University. He was a postdoctoral fellow in the Groupe Histoire des sciences de l’homme et de la société at the École Normale Supérieure de Cachan.
Rossi joined the University of Chicago faculty in 2013.