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Letter from the Chair

Harry Liebersohn

Professor of History
Center for Global Studies
European Union Center
Campus Honors Program
Professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures

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Areas of Specialization

European intellectual history, especially Germany


Harry Liebersohn is a professor of modern European history.  Hisresearch centers on cultural encounters between European and non-Europeanpeoples 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 in1973 and his Ph.D. in history, with a special emphasis on German andintellectual history, from Princeton University in 1979.  Since then hehas 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 GermanSociology, 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, "DiscoveringIndigenous Nobility: Tocqueville, Chamisso, and Romantic Travel Writing,"appeared in The American Historical Review in 1994.  It wasawarded the 1995 William Koren, Jr. Prize of the Society for French HistoricalStudies – a special distinction for a scholar trained in German history.

He has held appointments as a fellow or guest at the Center for theHumanities, 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 PlanckInstitute for the History of Science, Berlin (2008).  During the summers of 2013and 2014 he co-directed a post-doctoral seminar held respectively under theauspices of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin and the National Humanities Center, North Carolina. In May 2015 he will be a VisitingProfessor at the Central European University and EötvösUniversity, Budapest

His current research is on globalization and music since the late nineteenthcentury.  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"

In Fall 2014 he is teachiing “Western Civilization since 1648,”  and  “Globalization and Culture”; in addition he is co-teaching "Exploring Arts and Culture," a course sponsored by the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts with support from the Mellon Foundation.  In Spring 2015 he will teach “Romanticism and Nation-Building” and "Music in History" (Campus Honors Program).