An Exercise in Cultural History
Louis Menand is the Lee Simpkins Family Professor or Arts and Sciences and the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of English at Harvard, where he also holds the title Harvard College Professor, in recognition of his teaching. His books include The Metaphysical Club, which won the Pulitzer Prize for History, the Francis Parkman Prize from the Society of American Historians, and the Heartland Prize from the Chicago Tribune.
He has been associate editor of The New Republic (1986–1987), an editor at The New Yorker (1993–1994), and contributing editor of The New York Review of Books (1994–2001). Since 2001, he has been a staff writer at The New Yorker, which he began writing for in 1991. In 2016, he was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama.
He writes about nineteenth- and twentieth-century cultural history and about higher education, past, present, and future. He has taught at Princeton, Columbia, Queens College, the University of Virginia School of Law, and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, where he was Distinguished Professor of English. He has been a vice president of PEN American Center and the Program Director of the New York Institute for the Humanities, and has served on the Board of Supervisors of the English Institute and as a trustee of the Museum of Fine Arts and the National Humanities Center.
At Harvard, he co-founded, with Stephen Greenblatt, Humanities 10: An Introductory Humanities Colloquium, a year-long team-taught course for freshmen, with readings in literature and philosophy from Homer to Gabriel García Márquez. He also teaches graduate and undergraduate classes on the history of literary theory and on postwar cultural history. He was co-chair, with Alison Simmons, of the Task Force on General Education, which produced a new general education curriculum at Harvard.
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