John Waller

Position: Associate Professor
Field: 18th century, 19th Century, Science/Medicine, Social
Region: Europe & Russia, United States

Dr. John Waller, Associate Professor of the History of Medicine, received his B.A. in Modern History and his M.Sc. in Human Biology from the University of Oxford, his M.Sc. in History of Science and Medicine from Imperial College, London, and his Ph.D. in the History and Philosophy of Science from University College, London (in 2001). Following his graduate work, he served as a Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard and as a Research Fellow and Part-time Lecturer at University College, London, and then became a Lecturer in History of Medicine and Biology at the University of Melbourne (Australia).

Dr. Waller’s research has largely focused on nineteenth-century medical science and society. He has published six books.  Einstein’s Luck and Leaps in the Dark, published by Oxford University Press in 2002 and 2004 respectively, are re-examinations of iconic moments in the histories of science and medicine.  Discovery of the Germ (Columbia University Press, 2004) is a study of the advent of the germ theory of disease. The Real Oliver Twist: Robert Blincoe, a Life that Illuminates a Violent Age (Cambridge: Icon Books, 2005) is a social biography which explores the lives of parish apprentices and child factory workers in the early 19th century.  A Time to Dance, A Time to Die (Cambridge: Icon Books, 2008) is an account of an outbreak of mass psychogenic illness (in the form of compulsive dancing) in the 16th century Holy Roman Empire; it was shortlisted for the Dingle Prize of the British Society for the History of Science. Health and Wellness in Nineteenth-Century America (ABC-Clio, 2014) explores changes in medical theory and practice as well as the terrible disease burden of America in the 1800s. Dr. Waller is also currently completing a history of ideas of innate difference from classical antiquity to the present, entitled Breeding: A History of Heredity, Sex and Race (to be published by OUP) and a Very Short History of Heredity (also to be published by OUP).

Dr. Waller has also published a number of peer-reviewed articles on the history of heredity, eugenics, Victorian science and psychic epidemics. In addition, he is editor of the history of science and medicine journal, Endeavour.

Dr. Waller teaches classes in History on the history of science (HST 850) and several classes on the history and philosophy of science in Lyman Briggs College.