Michael J. Barany

Postdoctoral Fellow, Society of Fellows

Michael J. Barany is a postdoctoral fellow in the Society of Fellows and a historian of modern science and mathematics. He completed his Ph.D. in 2016 in Princeton University's Program in History of Science, shuttling between the Departments of History and Mathematics. His current book project will explain how mathematics (as a modern scholarly profession) transformed in the middle of the twentieth century from a largely regional discipline concentrated in Europe into one where intercontinental exchanges of people, theories, and texts became not just possible but increasingly routine and (in some quarters) expected and necessary. Part of this story is told in his dissertation, "Distributions in Postwar Mathematics," which examines the history of one of the first high-profile new theories to succeed on mathematicians' postwar intercontinental scale: Laurent Schwartz's theory of distributions. The dissertation interweaves the early history of distributions with an account of the background and organization of the 1950 International Congress of Mathematicians that propelled Schwartz to mathematical fame. While at Dartmouth, Michael will also be developing his second project, an examination of pedagogy, statecraft, science, technology, and culture in the modern era through the history of the blackboard, a widespread representational medium whose rise (and, some might say, fall) tracks a startling variety of themes in modern European, transnational, and global history. You can find more information about his work, including links and preprints for his publications in venues ranging from the New York Times to the British Journal for the History of Science, at his website http://mbarany.com.

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