Alex Csiszar is Assistant Professor of the History of Science. He 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. Today, as communications media in the sciences – and nearly everywhere else – undergo continuous rapid change, this book questions long-standing narratives of modernity that make of the rise of the scientific journal a crucial precondition of modern science. Csiszar’s research focuses instead on the complex ways in which print, manuscript, and travel continued to be bound up with one another, and on the difficulties that the newfound importance of journals were seen as having engendered. Far from arising out of the internal needs of science for more secure and mobile communications media, the scientific journal became central to scientific life through broader changes in the political cultures of France and Britain following the revolutionary period.
Csiszar’s 2010 publication, “Seriality and the Search for Order: Scientific Print and its Problems during the Late Nineteenth Century” (History of Science vol. 48) was featured in the Wilson Quarterly (Winter 2010). This article forms the basis for 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 and the French anthropologist and bibliographer Joseph Deniker.
Csiszar received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 2010 and was an ACLS/Mellon Early Career Postdoctoral Fellow. Before that he attended the University of British Columbia (B.Sc.) and Stanford University (M.A.). He grew up in and around Vancouver, BC.