Advanced Search
DSpace@MIT

The rules of perception : American color science, 1831-1931

Research and Teaching Output of the MIT Community

Show simple item record

dc.contributor.advisor David S. Jones. en_US
dc.contributor.author Rossi, Michael Paul, Ph. D. Massachusetts Institute of Technology en_US
dc.contributor.other Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Program in Science, Technology and Society. en_US
dc.date.accessioned 2012-02-29T17:28:16Z
dc.date.available 2012-02-29T17:28:16Z
dc.date.copyright 2011 en_US
dc.date.issued 2011 en_US
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/1721.1/69452
dc.description Thesis (Ph. D. in History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology and Society (HASTS))--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Program in Science, Technology and Society, 2011. en_US
dc.description Cataloged from PDF version of thesis. en_US
dc.description Includes bibliographical references (p. 365-389). en_US
dc.description.abstract Although vision was seldom studied in Antebellum America, color and color perception became a critical field of scientific inquiry in the United States during the Gilded Age and progressive era. Through a historical investigation of color science in the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, I argue that attempts to scientifically measure, define, and regulate color were part of a wider program to construct a more rational, harmonious, and efficient American polity starting from one of the very baseline perceptual components of reality - the experience of color. As part of this program, I argue secondly that color science was as much a matter of prescription as description - that is, color scientists didn't simply endeavor to reveal the facts of perception and apply them to social problems, they wanted to train everyday citizens to see scientifically, and thereby create citizens whose eyes, bodies, and minds were both medically healthy and morally tuned to the needs of the modern American nation. Finally, I argue not simply that perception has a history - i.e. that perceptual practices change over time, and that, for Americans of a century ago, experiences of color sensations were not taken as given but had to be laboriously crafted - but also that this history weighs heavily upon our present day understanding of visual reality, as manifested not least of all in scientific studies of vision, language, and cognition. Employing a close reading of the archival and published sources of a range of actors including physicist Ogden Rood, semiotician Charles Peirce, logician Christine Ladd-Franklin, board game magnate Milton Bradley, and art professor Alfred Munsell, among others, this study reveals the origins of some of the most deeply-rooted conceptions of color in modern American culture. en_US
dc.description.statementofresponsibility by Michael Paul Rossi. en_US
dc.format.extent 389 p. en_US
dc.language.iso eng en_US
dc.publisher Massachusetts Institute of Technology en_US
dc.rights M.I.T. theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission. See provided URL for inquiries about permission. en_US
dc.rights.uri http://dspace.mit.edu/handle/1721.1/7582 en_US
dc.subject Program in Science, Technology and Society. en_US
dc.title The rules of perception : American color science, 1831-1931 en_US
dc.title.alternative American color science, 1831-1931 en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US
dc.description.degree Ph.D.in History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology and Society (HASTS en_US
dc.contributor.department Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Program in Science, Technology and Society. en_US
dc.identifier.oclc 774888519 en_US


Files in this item

Name Size Format Description
774888519.pdf 23.42Mb PDF Preview, non-printable (open to all)
774888519-MIT.pdf 23.42Mb PDF Full printable version (MIT only)

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Show simple item record

MIT-Mirage