Letter from the Chair
Areas of Specialization
European intellectual history, especially Germany
Harry Liebersohn is a professor of modern European history. His
research centers on cultural encounters between European and non-European
peoples since the late eighteenth century. He attempts to understand how people from diverse cultures communicate in a broad variety of geographic settings,
especially in North America and the Pacific.
He received his B.A. in history from New College in Sarasota, Florida in
1973 and his Ph.D. in history, with a special emphasis on German and
intellectual history, from Princeton University in 1979. Since then he
has written on a wide variety of topics, including religion, social theory,
travel writing, gift exchange, literature, art and music.
He is the author of numerous books, including Fate and Utopia in German
Sociology, 1870-1923 (MIT Press, 1988), Aristocratic Encounters:
European Travelers and North American Indians (Cambridge University Press, 1998), The Travelers’ World: Europe to the Pacific (Harvard University Press, 2008),
and The Return of the Gift: European History of a Global Idea
(Cambridge University Press, 2011). His article, "Discovering
Indigenous Nobility: Tocqueville, Chamisso, and Romantic Travel Writing,"
appeared in The American Historical Review in 1994. It was
awarded the 1995 William Koren, Jr. Prize of the Society for French Historical
Studies – a special distinction for a scholar trained in German history.
He has held appointments as a fellow or guest at the Center for the
Humanities, Wesleyan University (1980-81), the Institute for Advanced Study,
Princeton (1996-97), the Max Planck Institute for History, Göttingen
(2003), the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (2006-07), and the Max Planck
Institute for the History of Science, Berlin (2008). During the summers of 2013
and 2014 he is co-directing a post-doctoral seminar held respectively under the
auspices of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin and the National Humanities Center.
His current research is on globalization and music since the late nineteenth
century. From 2014 to 2016 he is co-directing an Initiative at the Center for Advanced Study, University of Illinois, entitled ""Dissonance:
Music and Globalization since Edison's Phonograph"
During 2013-14 he is on leave with a sabbatical and an appointment at the
Center for Advanced Study, University of Illinois. He is eager to return to the classroom in 2014-15. In Fall 2014 he will teach “Western Civilization since 1648,” and “Globalization and Culture”; in addition he will co-teach "Exploring Arts and Culture," a course sponsored by the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. In Spring 2015 he will teach “Romanticism and Nation-Building” and "Music in History" (Campus Honors Program).