Michael Wintroub

Professor Emeritus


PhD (History), UCLA

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7323 Dwinelle Hall




Michael Wintroub takes as the focus of his research what Mauss has called “total social phenomena”—that is, phenomena in which religious, scientific, legal, moral, aesthetic and economic institutions find simultaneous expression. He is concerned with the mediations and connections between these various dimensions of human activity and how they develop over time and over space. His sources are rituals, ceremonies, festivities, and technical practices; words, poems, pictures, rhetorical rules and classificatory schemes; ships, sailors, poets, courts and kings; coins, artefacts, scientific instruments and institutions. His approach is micro-historical, attending to specific techniques, dispositions, performances, encounters and networks, while also stressing questions of genealogy, mobility and the longue durée. Examples of this work can be found in peer reviewed journal articles in publications such as the American Historical Review, the Renaissance QuarterlyISISAnnales: Histoire, Sciences SocialesFrench Historical Studies, and the British Journal for the History of Science, or in either of his two books: A Savage Mirror: Power, Identity and Knowledge in Early Modern France(Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2006), and The Voyage of Thought: Navigating Knowledge Across the Sixteenth Century World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017), awarded the 2018 Pickstone Prize for the best book in the History of Science published in 2015-2017 by the British Society for the History of Science.



Sordid genealogies: a conjectural history of Cambridge Analytica’s eugenic roots,” Humanities and Social Sciences Communications 741 (2020).

“The Pharmakon of ‘If’: working with Steven Shapin’s A Social History of Truth”, British
Journal for the History of Science 52:3 (September 2019): 487–514.

“Translations: Words, Things, Going Native, and Staying True”, American Historical Review
120:4 (October 2015): 1185-1217.

“The Translations of a Humanist Ship Captain: Jean Parmentier’s 1529 Voyage to Sumatra”,
Renaissance Quarterly 68:1 (Spring 2015): 98-132.

“The Looking Glass of Facts: Collecting, Rhetoric and Citing the Self in the Experimental
Natural Philosophy of Robert Boyle”, in Tina Skouen and Ryan J. Stark (eds.), Rhetoric &
The Early Royal Society (Leiden: Brill, 2014), 202-236, reprint History of Science 35 (1997):

“Taking a Bow in the Theater of Things”, ISIS 101:4 (December 2010): 779-793.

“The Heavens Inscribed: the instrumental poetry of the Virgin in early modern France”, British
Journal for the History of Science 42:2 (2009): 161-185.

“Words, Deeds, and a Womanly King”, French Historical Studies 28:3 (2005): 387-413.

“L’ordre du rituel et l’ordre des choses: l’entrée royale d’’Henri II à Rouen (1550), Annales:
Histoire, Sciences Sociales 56:2 (mars-avril, 2001): 479-505. 

“Taking Stock At the End of the World: Rites of Distinction and Practices of Collecting in
Early Modern Europe”, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 30:3 (1999): 395-424.

Civilizing the Savage and Making a King: the Royal Entry Festival of Henri II (Rouen,
1550)”, Sixteenth Century Journal 29:2 (1998): 467-496.


Selected Awards

Pickstone Prize, The UK’s most prestigious prize for best scholarly book in the history of science
(broadly construed) in English from the British Association for the History of Science, for The
Voyage of Thought (2018).

Centre for Advanced Study, the Norwegian Academy of Science & Letters, “The Body in
Translation (Historicizing and Reinventing Medical Humanities and Knowledge Translation”),
with John Ødemark and Eivind Engebretsen (2019-2020).

Peder Sather Grant, UC Berkeley, “The Body in Translation: Early Modern Cultural Translation and
the Constitution of the Human Sciences,” with John Ødemark, University of Oslo (2016 and again in 2019).

NEH Fellowship for University Teachers (2015).

Townsend Fellowship for Associate Professors, Townsend Center for the Humanities, UC Berkeley (2013).

Nancy Lyman Roelker Prize, Sixteenth Century Society. Best article published in English on
sixteenth-century French history (2010), for “The Heavens Inscribed: The Instrumental Poetry of the Virgin.”

Mellon Project Grant for Associate Professors (2010-2011).

American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Fellowship (2006-2007).

Weiss/Brown Publication Subvention Award. For the publication of outstanding works of scholarship that concern European civilization before 1700. Newberry Library, Chicago (2003).

NEH Fellowship for University Teachers (2000).

Nancy Lyman Roelker Prize, Sixteenth Century Society. Best article published in English on
sixteenth-century French history, for “Civilizing the Savage and Making a King,” (2000).

Gilbert Chinard Scholarship, Institut Français de Washington, Chapel Hill, NC (1993).

J. Paul Getty Center Predoctoral Fellow (1992-1993).

Lynn White Jr. Memorial Fellowship, UCLA Center for Medieval & Renaissance Studies, (1990-1991).