Department of History   1810 Golf Terrace Drive
Florida State University   Tallahassee, FL 32301-5722
Tallahassee, FL 32306-2200   home: (850) 878-0049
office: (850) 644-9517    
fax: (850) 644-6402    



PhD, History of American Civilization -- Harvard University 1987
AM, History -- Harvard University 1983
MA, History -- Columbia University 1979
BA, Economic Thought --Reed College 1977



US intellectual and cultural history, History of liberalism, American historiography, US since 1945, American studies



2002-08   CHAIR, Department of History, Florida State.
1998-00   PROFESSOR, Department of History, Florida State.
1993-98   ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, Department of History, Florida State.
1990-93   ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, Department of History, Florida State.
1987-90   LECTURER, History and Literature, Harvard University.
1986-87   INSTRUCTOR, History and Literature, Harvard University.
1982-86   TEACHING FELLOW in History and Literature, Harvard University.
1985-88   RESIDENT TUTOR in History at Dunster House, Harvard University.
1984-90   Member of the Dunster House Senior Common Room, Harvard.
1980-81   EDITORIAL INTERN, the Nation magazine, New York, NY.




Critical Crossings: The New York Intellectuals in Postwar America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991). Length: 291 pages, including endnotes and index. A study of what it means to be an intellectual. Focuses on the political movement from socialism to liberalism of a group of important literary and cultural critics from the 1930s to the 1980s. In addition to being reviewed in the major journals and in the TLS, my book was the subject of a review essay in the London Review of Books. That review essay was later included as a chapter in Christopher Hitchens, For the Sake of Argument (New York: Verso, 1993), 199-207.

Henry Steele Commager: Midcentury Liberalism and the History of the Present (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999). Length: 328 pages, including endnotes and index. This biography of Henry Steele Commager is a study of historians who have operated as intellectual activists in 20th century America, and also a reevaluation of the babyboomer generation's relationship, during the culture wars, with Commager's midcentury generation of intellectual historians. Reviewed in New Republic, Reviews in American History, and the major journals, and I was interviewed about it on National Public Radio's All Things Considered.

The New York Intellectuals Reader (New York: Routledge, 2007). Length: 441 pages, including introduction,headnotes, essays, endnotes and index. This is the first anthology of the writings of the New YorkIntellectuals, and it is an opportunity to reconsider the ideas of some important mid-twentieth century liberals and neoconservatives--nearly all of whom began as leftist radicals. There have been earlier collections ofessays based around particular magazines such as Partisan Review, Commentary, and Dissent, but never a volume on the group itself.

Liberalism for a New Century, co-edited with Kevin Mattson (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007). Length:252 pages, including endnotes and index. A rethinking of the direction and values of American liberalism in the wake of September 11. A foreword by E.J. Dionne, an introduction by Neil Jumonville and Kevin Mattson, and essays by Peter Berkowitz, John Patrick Diggins, Jennifer Burns, Alan Brinkley, Neil Jumonville, Kevin Mattson, Michael Kazin, Michael Ruse, Mona Harrington, Amy Sullivan, Alan Wolfe, Danny Postel, and Michael Tomasky.




"Henry Steele Commager's Activist History," in John Diggins, ed., The Liberal Persuasion: Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., and the Challenge of the American Past (Princeton University Press, 1997), 277-300. This chapter suggests that Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. and Henry Steele Commager both acted as liberal public intellectuals, as well as professional historians, and that through their public activity it is easy to see some of the contradictions of mid-twentieth century liberalism.

“Polemics, Open Discussion, and Tolerance,” in Matthew Cotter, ed., Sidney Hook Reconsidered (New York: Prometheus Books, 2004). A chapter on tolerance and lack of tolerance of enemies in the writings of Sidney Hook, and the relevance of Hook’s cold war ideas in the light of 9-11.

“Liberalism: Past and Future Tense,” co-written with Kevin Mattson, in Neil Jumonville and Kevin Matson, eds. Liberalism for a New Century (University of California,  Spring 2007). An essay that offers a definition of liberalism in its historical context.

“Liberal Tolerance at Middle Age,” in Neil Jumonville and Kevin Matson, eds. Liberalism for a New Century (University of California,  Spring 2007). An essay arguing that in order for liberalism to be accepted in America it must have some bounds that the public recognizes. Tolerance cannot be boundless although it should be widespread.



"The Cultural Politics of the Sociobiology Debate," Journal of the History of Biology 35(3):569-593, Fall 2002.

"The Origin of Henry Steele Commager's Activist Ideas," The History Teacher 29(2):223-41, February 1996. An explanation of why some historians function as civic activists who write for the general public in popular periodicals, in addition to publishing as scholars.

"The New York Intellectuals' Defence of the Intellect," Queen's Quarterly 97(2):290-304, Summer 1990. Shows the connection between pragmatism and liberalism in the defense of intellectual freedom in America after World War II.

"The New York Intellectuals and Mass Culture Criticism," Journal of American Culture 12(1):87-95, Spring 1989. Explains the cultural conservatism of a group of leading political liberals and radicals in America after 1936.



“Henry Steele Commager,” Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives, vol. 5 (New York: Scribner's, 2002).

"The Role of the Intellectual," in the Encyclopedia of American Cultural and Intellectual History (New York: Scribners' Sons, 2001). 5,500 words.

Short article (invited) on Henry Steele Commager for the Harvard Square Library online collection of biographies of famous American Unitarians. Find it at:

Neil Jumonville and Stuart Berg Flexner, "Talkin' 'bout My Generation," in Speaking Freely: A Guided Tour of American English from Plymouth Rock to Silicon Valley, Stuart Berg Flexner and Anne H. Soukhanov, eds. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 221-29.



"Laments for the Last Intellectual," Boston Review 13(6):11-14, December 1988. Examines whether American intellectual culture is at an end, as recent books have declared.

"Die New Yorker Intellektuellen Schreiben Ihre Eigene Legende," Die Zeit (Hamburg, Germany), Nr.41, October 11, 1985, pp. 18-19. A reprint of my October 1984 article in the Boston Review.

"In Their Own Hand: Memoirs of the New York Intellectuals," Boston Review 9(5):22-24, October 1984. An account of the New York intellectuals' attempt to frame their own place in American intellectual history through their many memoirs.

"Diversity Among Evangelicals," New York Times, May 12, 1981, p. A15. Suggests that not all evangelical political sentiment is conservative, since there has been a history of evangelical involvement in political reform.



Review of David S. Brown, Richard Hofstadter: An Intellectual Biography (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006) for the Jouranl of American History, June 2007.

Review of John Lewis Gaddis, The Landscape of History: How Historians Map the Past (NY: Oxford University Press, 2002) for the Journal of American History, March 2004.

Review of William Palmer, Engagement with the Past: The Lives and Works of the World War II Generation of Historians (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2001) for the Journal of American History, December 2002.

Review of Gregory Sumner, Dwight Macdonald and the politics Circle: The Challenge of Cosmopolitan Democracy (Ithica: Cornell University Press, 1996) for the American Historical Review, October 1997.

Review of Martin Shefter, ed., Capital of the American Century: The National and International Influence of New York City (NY: Russell Sage, 1993) for the Journal of American History, September 1994.

Review of Martin Staniland, American Intellectuals and African Nationalists, 1955-1970 (New Haven: Yale, 1991) for the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences 527:197-98, May 1993.

Review of Melvin Landsberg, ed., John Dos Passos' Correspondence with Arthur K. McComb (Niwot: Univ Colorado, 1991) for the Journal of American History, September 1992.

Review article on Alexander Bloom, Prodigal Sons: The New York Intellectuals and Their World (New York: Oxford, 1986). My article was published as "The Long March of the New York Intellectuals," Boston Review 11(3):24, June 1986.

Review article on Irving Howe, ed., Twenty-Five Years of Dissent (NY: Methuen, 1979). My article was published as "A Voice From the Left," The New Leader 63(5):16-17, March 10, 1980.



University Teaching Award, Florida State University, 1994.
Teaching Incentive Program (TIP) award. First round, 1994.
Teaching Incentive Program (TIP) award, 1997.
Phi Alpha Theta (FSU chapter) Professor of the Year, 1995-1996.
Certificate of Distinction in Teaching. Harvard University, 1984.

Advisory Committee, Program in American Studies, 1992-2007. Regularly served as major professor for masters students.

Advisory Committee, Humanities Program, 2007 to the present. Serve as major professor to graduate students.

Advisory Committee, Interdisciplinary Social Science Program, 1994-present. Serve as major professor for graduate students.




Florida State University Regional Humanities Collection. From March 1997 until about 2002 I acquired the beginnings of a special collection of documents in the area of regional civil rights law, which now is housed in the Special Collections area of Strozier Library at FSU. The papers represented several different cases, attorneys, and defendants, and total over 500 boxes of indexed material.

National Humanities Center Professional Development Leadership Seminar,  2000-02. Administered the program (from a grant) for establishing a new system of professional development (continuing education) at Florida State University High School. Organized a schedule of four separate seminars over the period of a year on the intellectual's role in society. Taught three of the four seminars myself.

University Committees and Service:

History Department Committees and Service:



Harvard Club of Tallahassee: President or on Board of Governors, June 1993 to about 2000. Helped raise money for Harvard students to spend spring break rebuilding burned black churches, 1997.

Writing for newspapers: In addition to having written for the New York Times, I was a monthly columnist (America in Context) for the Tallahassee Democrat from February 1995 to August 1997. Frequently my columns were picked up on the national Knight-Ridder wire and reprinted in such papers as the Atlanta Constitution, Miami Herald, Baltimore Sun, Houston Chronicle, Charlotte Observer, and in papers in Virginia, California, Connecticut, Nebraska, Washington, and elsewhere.

Weekly Thursday morning basketball with FSU history graduate students and some undergrads. I'm 5'8", but I like to think I play like I'm 5'9".



HISTORY NEWS SERVICE: Member of the national Steering Committee, 1996 to 2001. HNS is an organization started by the president of the American Historical Association to arrange for scholars to write historical articles for the op-ed pages of newspapers across the country.

HUMAN SUBJECTS RESEARCH, 2000-01. I was one of the leaders in arguing, both locally at FSU and nationally at the AAUP and the AHA, for a revision of Institutional Review Board (IRB) oversight standards for human subjects research performed by scholars in the humanities. I have been recognized by the AAUP and the AHA for initiating this national reconsideration, and was discussed in the cover article of Lingua Franca in September 2000 (link below). In 2001 I submitted written comments on reports and hearings by the AAUP and the National Bioethics Advisory Committee. . In the spring of 2004 the NBAC issued a policy agreeing that oral history should not be subject to the same IRB oversights as other disciplines.



Appeared on Talking History (Public Radio Satellite System), July 10, 2000, to give an editorial on the teaching of evolution in high schools.

Appeared on National Public Radio's All Things Considered, March 7, 1998. Interviewed by Jackie Lyden about my biography of Henry Steele Commager.



Invited participation at a conference marking the centennial of the birth of Lionel Trilling, at the University of Louisiana, November 11-12, 2005. I chaired and commented on a panel there.

Invited participation on a panel with Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. and Nathan Glazer at the conference “Sidney Hook Reconsidered: A Centennial Celebration,” at the CUNY Graduate Center in October 2002. My comments were quoted in an article on the conference that appeared in the “Ideas and Arts” section of the Sunday Boston Globe a week later.

Conference paper: “Determinism in Human Nature from William Graham Sumner to Edward O. Wilson.” Panel entitled “Human Nature: Red in Tooth and Claw?” Annual meeting of the International Society for the History of the Behavioral and Social Sciences (Cheiron), June 21-24, 2001, in Bloomington, IN.

Keynote speech: "Myth and Symbol in Florida History," Florida Conference of Historians, March 2, 2001, Tallahassee, Florida.

Invited lecture: "Why Should We Care About Henry Steele Commager?" Amherst College, Amherst, Massachusetts, March 1999.

Conference paper: "Henry Steele Commager and Appropriate Anticommunism," American Historical Association conference, Chicago, January 1995.



William Warren Rogers Professor of History, Florida State University, 1999.

Who's Who in the South and Southwest, 24th, 25th Edition.

Phi Beta Kappa, Reed College, 1977.

Signet Society, Harvard University , 1986 to the present.

Graduate Fellowship, Columbia University, 1978-79.

Reed College Faculty Commendation for Academic Excellence, 1975, 1976.

Richard T. Frost Memorial Scholarship at Reed College, 1976, 1977.