Massimo Mazzotti


Director, Center for Science, Technology, Medicine & Society (CSTMS)


History and Sociology of Science

Research Interests

My research interests lie at the intersection of the history of science and science studies. I am especially interested in the historicity and situatedness of mathematics, logic, and deductive reasoning, and in the social processes that can make them universally valid. I am also interested in using technological systems and artifacts as ways of entry for the explorations of specific forms of social organization and power distribution. My past and present research projects have focused primarily on the early modern and Enlightenment period, with significant incursions into the nineteenth and twentieth century.

Keywords: mathematics, technology, algorithms, Enlightenment, religion, power, science studies. Profile


PhD, Science Studies Unit, University of Edinburgh

Laurea, Università di Milano

Professional Experience

Lecturer and Senior Lecturer of Sociology, University of Exeter (2002-2008)

Kenneth May Fellow in the History of Mathematics, University of Toronto (2001-2002)

Postdoctoral Fellow, Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology, MIT (1999-2001)

Public Engagement

Feature Articles (Times Higher Education)

Public Lectures

  • Forgotten Lady (Science Museum, Milano, 2018);
  • Faking Galileo (McLean Lecture, Collegiate School, New York City, 2017);
  • The History of Mirrors (San Francisco 2015);
  • The Culture of Design in Postwar Italy (San Francisco 2013);
  • Holocaust Remembrance Day: Conversation with Carlo Ginzburg (San Francisco, 2012);
  • Making Italian Science (San Francisco 2011).

Radio Programs

  • The Blockchain Revolution (Radio24, Italy, 2018);
  • Algorithmic Life (Stack and Flow Podcasts, 2017);
  • The Future of Scientific Research (Radio 24, Italy, 2010);
  • Madame du Chatelet (Radio France, 2006).


  • Olivetti Day (San Francisco 2012);
  • Madame du Chatelet. La femme des Lumieres (Biblioteque Nationale de France, Paris, 2006);
  • The Newtonian Moment (New York Public Library, 2004).


  • Hunting the Edge of Space (PBS - NOVA 2010);
  • Brunel: The Greatest Southerner (BBC1, 2004).


  • Conversations (with Maria Eugenia D'Aquino, premiered at Festival Scienza in Scena, Milano, 2018).


"Impure Cultures," co-edited by Massimo Mazzotti Editor (with Giuliano Pancaldi) — Impure Cultures: Interfacing Science, Technologies, and Humanities Bologna: Università di Bologna, 2010.
"Knowledge as Social Order," edited by Massimo Mazzotti Editor — Knowledge as Social Order. Rethinking the Sociology of Barry Barnes, Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008.
"The World of Maria Gaetana Agnesi, Mathematician of God" by Massimo Mazzotti The World of Maria Gaetana Agnesi, Mathematician of God, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007.

Articles & Essays

Newton in Italy. In H. Pulte and S. Mandelbrote (eds.), The Reception of Isaac Newton in Europe, Bloomsbury, 2019, 3 vols., 1:159-178.

"I Don't Really care. Do You?" Scientists in the Grey Zone in 1930s Italy, Los Angeles Review of Books, 8 July 2019.

Morgan Ames, Jason Oakes, Massimo Mazzotti, Marion Fourcade, Gretchen Gano (eds.), Special Issue: "Algorithms in Culture," Big Data & Society, January-June 2018.

The Rise and Fall of the FilosofessaLos Angeles Review of Books. 11 July 2018. Also in LARB Quarterly Journal, Spring 2018.

Algorithmic Life, Los Angeles Review of Books, 22 January 2017.

Per un sociologia degli algoritmi [For a Sociology of Algorithms], Rassegna Italiana di Sociologia, 2015, 56: 465-477.

Maria Gaetana Agnesi, Mathematician of God. In S. Lawrence and M. McCartney (eds.), Mathematicians and Their Gods: Interactions Between Mathematics and Religious Beliefs. Oxford. Oxford University Press, 2015, 145-166.

Faking Galileo [online version], Los Angeles Review of Books — Quarterly Journal, Spring 2014.

Maria Gaetana Agnesi: Science and Mysticism. In J. Burson and U. Lehrer (eds.), Enlightenment and Catholicism in Europe: A Transnational History. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2014, 291-310.

Rethinking Scientific Biography: The Enlightenment of Maria Gaetana Agnesi. In P. Govoni and Z. Franceschi (eds.), Writing About Lives in Science: (Auto)Biography, Gender, and Genre. Gottingen: V&R unipress, 2014, 117-137.

Il newtonianesimo e la scienza del Settecento, in Antonio Clericuzio and Saverio Ricci (eds.), Il contributo italiano alla storia del pensiero. Appendice VIII della Enciclopedia Italiana di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti, vol. 4: Scienze, Rome: Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, 2013, 291-300.

Pensiero conservatore a scienze moderne a Napoli (1780-1830). In R. Mazzola (ed.), Le scienza a Napoli tra Illuminismo e Restaurazione, Naples: Aracne, 185-204, 2011.

Introductory essay to Impure Cultures: Interfacing Science, Technology, and Humanities. Bologna: University of Bologna – CIS, 2010, 5-18.

The Jesuit on the roof: observatory science, metaphysics and nation-building. In D. Aubin, C. Bigg, and O. Sibum (eds.), The Heavens on Earth: Observatories and Astronomy in Nineteenth-Century Science and Culture, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010, 68-94.

Engineering the Neapolitan state. In E. Robson and J. Stedall (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of the History of Mathematics, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009, 253-272.

Madame du Châtelet, académicienne de Bologne. In U. Kölvig and O. Courcelle (eds.), Émilie du Châtelet: éclairages et documents nouveaux, Fernay-Voltaire: Centre internationale d'etudes du XVIIIme siecle, 2008, 127-132.

The Two Newtons and Beyond [Essay review]. British Journal for the History of Science, 2007, 40: 105-111.

Scienza, fede, e carità. Il cattolicesimo illuminato di Maria Gaetana Agnesi. In R. Simili (ed), Scienza a due voci, Florence: Olschki, 2006, 13-37.

I significati della precisione. Per una storia socioculturale dell'astrofisica italiana. In P. Govoni (ed), Storia, scienza e società. Ricerche sulla scienza italiana di età moderna, Bologna: University of Bologna, 2006, 143-173.

Enlightened Mills. Mechanizing Olive Oil Manufacture in Mediterranean Europe. Technology and Culture, 2004, 45: 277-304.

Newton for Ladies. Gentility, gender and radical culture. British Journal for the History of Science, 2004, 37: 119-146.

Le savoir de l'ingénieur: mathématiques et politique a Naples sous le Bourbons. Actes de la Recherche en Sciences Sociales, 2002, 141-42: 86-97.

The making of the modern engineer: analytic rationality and social change. History of Universities, 2002, 17: 121-161.

The Neapolitan school: studying pure geometry in the period of revolutions. In E. Knobloch and J. Mawhin (eds.), Studies in the history of mathematics dedicated to A.P. Youschkevitch, Turnhout: Brepols, 2002, 107-112

Maria Gaetana Agnesi: mathematics and the making of Catholic Enlightenment. Isis, 2001, 92: 657-683.

For science and for the Pope-king: writing the history of the exact sciences in nineteenth-century Rome. British Journal for the History of Science, 2000, 33: 257-282.

La professionalizzazione della matematica: dall'analisi settecentesca alla matematica pura. In M. Segala and F. Abbri (eds.), Il ruolo sociale della scienza, Florence: Olschki, 2000, 115-126.

L'immagine della scienza nel Bullettino di Baldassarre Boncompagni (1868-1887). Ricerche Storiche, 1999, 29: 495-521.

The geometers of God: mathematics and reaction in the Kingdom of Naples. Isis, 1998, 87: 678-701.

Professor Massimo Mazzotti


2209 Dwinelle Hall

Office Hours

Twitter: @maxmazzotti