Current Professor

Harry M Liebersohn
CAS Professor of History

Harry Liebersohn is Professor of History at the University of Illinois. Trained in German intellectual history, he received his Ph.D. at Princeton University in 1979. His early work focused on the history of social theory in Germany in the generation of Max Weber, an interest that culminated in the publication of Fate and Utopia in German Sociology (MIT, 1988). Since the late 1980s his work has focused on the history of cultural encounters between European and non-European peoples. Seemingly straightforward, the face-to-face meetings between peoples of different cultures in fact require multiple strategies of analysis that he has pioneered in publications including his prize-winning article, “Discovering Indigenous Nobility: Tocqueville, Chamisso, and Romantic Travel Writing” (American Historical Review, 1994; Koren Prize, Society for French Historical Studies, 1995); Aristocratic Encounters: European Travelers and North American Indians (Cambridge University Press, 1998); The Travelers’ World: Europe to the Pacific (Harvard University Press, 2006); and The Return of the Gift: European History of a Global Idea (Cambridge University Press, 2011). He is currently completing a study of music and globalization since 1850.

Liebersohn is dedicated to teaching at all levels from the undergraduate survey course to graduate seminars. He especially enjoys collaboration with colleagues in the arts. With William Kinderman (Musicology) he has co-taught a course on the culture of the Weimar Republic; with Philip Johnson (Dance) he has co-taught FAA 110, a course that brings the performing and visual arts into the classroom.

The recipient of numerous awards, Liebersohn has been a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study/Princeton, the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (Institute for Advanced Study/Berlin), and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science/Berlin. In spring 2017 he was the Ellen Maria Gorrissen Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin and received a Humboldt Research Prize from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.