Carol Pal

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Carol Pal is a historian who works on the intellectual history of early modern Europe. A former auto mechanic and pastry chef, she now focuses on the histories of science, medicine, the Republic of Letters, and knowledge production—with an emphasis on how women were always part of the picture.


Pal is a former auto mechanic and pastry chef. Then on one fine day in 1994, she suddenly realized she had completely forgotten to go to college. She enrolled as a freshman at Mills College, found her calling as a historian, and received her PhD from Stanford University in 2007. Following postdoctoral fellowships at Stanford and UCLA, she has taught history at Bennington since 2008, spending the 2012­–13 academic year as a Dibner Fellow in the History of Science at The Huntington Library. Pal’s first book, Republic of Women: Rethinking the Republic of Letters in the Seventeenth Century, is a case study of female scholars in the seventeenth-century Republic of Letters. Published in 2012 by Cambridge University Press, the book won the Joan Kelly Memorial Prize for best book in women’s history from the American Historical Association. In addition to chapters in various edited collections, Pal is also the editor of a sourcebook in the history of medicine, to be published in 2017, and a forthcoming translation of the work of the Huguenot scholar Marie du Moulin. Her next project, entitled Transient Technologies, explores some of the lost practices of early modern knowledge making.