Kevin Donnelly, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of History

Professor Donnelly is an assistant professor of history and teaches a wide range of courses in European and World History at both the survey and seminar level, including courses such as the History of Happiness, The European Century, History of Science, 20th Century World History and World War One: 100 Years Later. His research interests are in the history of science and intellectual history, broadly conceived, with a general interest in modern European ideas, including notions of progress, technology, and the sciences of man. He has published a number of articles and book chapters, and delivered talks on a variety of topics, including the nineteenth-century polymath Adolphe Quetelet, the early history of climate change, boredom in science, the 1832 Parisian cholera outbreak, the graphic novel Jimmy Corrigan, Smartest Kid on Earth, and the cult television show Mystery Science Theater 3000. In June of 2015 Pickering & Chatto will publish his first book: Adolphe Quetelet, Social Physics and the Average Men of Science, 1796-1874.

Educational Background

  • Ph.D., History, Brandeis University (2011)
  • M.A., History, Brandeis University (2005)
  • B.A., Journalism, University of Missouri (2000)

Research Fellowships And Awards

  • Chicago and the Making of the Modern American City, Seminar, Newberry Library, AAC&U Sponsored (2014)
  • Robert L. Platzman Memorial Fellowship, University of Chicago Library, Special Collections (2013)
  • Travel-to-Collections Grant, Sophia Smith Collections, Smith College (2013)
  • Faculty Excellence Grant, Alvernia University (2013)
  • Research and Development Grant, Alvernia University (2012)
  • Research and Development Grant, Alvernia University (2011)
  • Andrew W. Mellon Dissertation Year Fellowship, Brandeis University (2011)
  • Andrew W. Mellon Travel Fellowship, History of Science Collections at the University of Oklahoma (2009)
  • Friends of the University of Wisconsin Memorial Library Grant-in-Aid (2009)
  • Belgian American Educational Foundation Fellowship (2008)
  • Sachar Research Scholarship, Brandeis University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (2008)
  • Research Travel Grant, Brandeis University Department of History (2008)
  • American Philosophical Society Research Fellowship (2007)


  • Progression to the Mean: Adolphe Quetelet, Social Physics and the Average Men of Science, 1796 – 1874 (London: Pickering & Chatto, June 2015)
  • On the Boredom of Science: Positional Astronomy in the Nineteenth Century,” in The British Journal for the History of Science, September, 2014, Volume 47, pp. 479-5033
  • “The Other Average Man: Science Workers in Quetelet’s Belgium,” History of Science (Forthcoming)
  • “Making Sociology: Earle Eubank among the Organicists, Comtean Societies, and Endangered Czechoslovakian Sociologists in the 1930s” (In Preparation)
  • “Social Physics or Social Disease: Villermé, Quetelet and Cholera 1832,” in Royalists, Radicals, and les Misérables: France in 1832, ed. Eric Martone (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2013)
  • “How to Make Robot Friends: Mocking Technophobia and Technophilia in Mystery Science Theater 3000,” ed. Shelly Rees (Scarecrow Press, 2013)
  • “The Failure of Wonder in Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth,” in History in the Graphic Novel, ed. Rick Iodinisi (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2013)

Conference Papers

  • “The New Intellectual Hierarchy: Mongrelist Sociology in America, 1918-1937,” Delivered November 24, History of Science Society (HSS) Annual Meeting, Boston, MA. (2013)
  • “Camus and the Philosophy of Science,” Delivered October 18, Pennsylvania Communication Association Pre-Conference, Erie, PA. (2013)
  • “The Melancholy Astronomer,” Delivered June 11, Biennial Notre Dame History of Astronomy Workshop, South Bend, IN. (2013)
  • “Global Physics: The Positivist Inversion in Nineteenth-Century Climatology,” Delivered September 14, Joint Meeting of the Climate, Culture, and Politics Conference and the Boulder Conference on the History and Philosophy of Science, Boulder, CO. (2012)
  • “The Man With Too Many Qualities: The ‘Afterlives’ of Adolphe Quetelet’s Average Man,” Delivered July 12 as part of the panel, “History of the Human Sciences,” Joint Meeting of the HSS, British Society for the History of Science, and the Canadian Society for the History and Philosophy of Science, Philadelphia, PA. (2012)
  • “The Savoyard and the Able General: The Scientific Style of François Arago and Alexis Bouvard,” Joint Meeting of Cheiron and the European Society for the History of the Human Sciences, July 18, Montreal, Canada. (2012)
  • “It Came From Brussels: The Pre-History of the BMI,” Delivered November 17 as part of the panel, “Contextualizing Medicine and Medical Treatments,” Annual Meeting of the Social Science History Association, Boston, MA. (2011)
  • “Making Observers: Quetelet’s Average Man,” Delivered September 30, Philadelphia Area Annual Introductory Symposium, Philadelphia Area Center for History of Science, Philadelphia, PA. (2011)
  • “Robot Friends: Technophobia and Technophilia in Mystery Science Theater 3000,” Delivered April 21 as part of the panel, “Science Fiction and Fantasy,” The Joint Conference of the National Popular Culture & American Culture Association, San Antonio, TX. (2011)
  • “The Not-So-Distant Past:  Reclaiming Technology as Craft in Mystery Science Theater 3000,”  Delivered November 13, Film and History Conference, Milwaukee, WI. (2010)
  • “How Science Became Boring: Observational Astronomy in the Nineteenth Century,” Delivered November 20 as part of the panel, “Astronomy and Society,” HSS, Phoenix, AZ. (2009)
  • “Adolphe Quetelet: Professional Science, Social Theory, and the New Intellectual Hierarchy in Western Europe” Delivered November 4 as part of the panel, “Origins of the Social Sciences,” HSS, Arlington, VA. (2007)

Contact Information

Photo of Kevin Donnelly

Kevin Donnelly

Assistant Professor of History

     Francis Hall 232
     Fax: 610.790.1908

Courses Taught

  • World War One: 100 Years Later
  • History Of Science
  • Happiness And Its Discontents
  • Western Civilization
  • The European Century (1763 – 1914)
  • The Age Of European Revolutions (1610 – 1815) 20th Century World History
  • World Civilizations High And Late Middle Ages Historiography


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