Letter from the Chair
Professor of History
Center for Global Studies
European Union Center
Campus Honors Program
Professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures
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 howpeople from diverse cultures communicate in a broad variety of geographicsettings,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 range 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[i]Sociology, 1870-1923[/i] (MIT Press, 1988), AristocraticEncounters:[i]European Travelers and North American Indians[/i] (CambridgeUniversity 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.
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 summersof 2013 and 2014 he co-directed a post-doctoral seminar held respectively under the auspices of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin and the National HumanitiesCenter, North Carolina. In May 2015 he was Visiting Professor at CentralEuropean University and EötvösUniversity, Budapest. In spring 2017 he will be a fellow at the American Academy in Berlin. He is a recent recipient of a Humboldt Research Award, a lifetime achievement prize awarded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.
His current research is on globalization and music since the late nineteenthcentury. From 2014 to Spring 2016 he co-directed an Initiative at the Centerfor Advanced Study, University of Illinois, entitled ""Dissonance: Musicand Globalization since Edison's Phonograph." In 2015-16 he was a Faculty Coordinator for the initiative, “A History of World Music Recording,” a project funded by the Humanities Without Walls consortium, Global Midwest competition.
In Fall 2016 he will teach a course on music in history as well as part two of the Department's Western Civilization survey. In addition he will be co-teaching "Exploring Arts and Culture," an undergraduate course sponsored by the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts