The Rules of Perception: American Color Science, 1858-1931


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


Science, Technology and Society


This study is a cultural history of color research in Progressive Era America. Color was an important topic for a diverse array of turn-of-the-century researchers, including physicists, anthropologists, industrialists, and artists. Color confounded the ability of science to signify subjective phenomena; it offered insight into the roots of sensation; it held the key to understanding how human beings learned about the world and structured their societies; and it was a powerful commercial tool. In working through questions of science, sensation, mind, and society, vision researchers applied their scientific studies to questions about what, who, and how a modern American society would be.