James T. Kloppenberg was born in Denver and educated at Dartmouth (A.B. 1973) and Stanford (M.A., 1976, Ph.D., 1980). He enjoys playing tennis, swimming, hiking, and following the Red Sox, the Celtics, and soccer everywhere. He and his wife Mary have lived in Wellesley, MA, since 1980. In recognition of his teaching, he has been named a Harvard College Professor and awarded the Levinson Memorial Teaching Prize by the Harvard Undergraduate Council. He teaches courses on European and American thought, culture, and politics from the ancient world to the present. He serves on the faculty of the graduate program in the History of American Civilization and the undergraduate concentrations in History and Literature and Social Studies.
Kloppenberg has held fellowships from the Danforth, Whiting, and Guggenheim foundations, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He has held the Pitt professorship at the University of Cambridge, has taught at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris, and has lectured throughout Britain, Europe, and the United States. He has written about the rise and fall of social democracy in Europe and America; American politics and ideas from the seventeenth century to the present; the American philosophy of pragmatism; European observers of America from Tocqueville through Weber; and the relation between contemporary critical theory and historical writing.
His most recent book is Reading Obama: Dreams, Hope, and the American Political Tradition (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011), which explains the reasons for Obama’s commitments to democratic deliberation and conciliation by examining his intellectual formation and his understanding of American history.
Current research projects include “Tragic Irony: The Rise of Democracy in European and American Thought” (forthcoming from Oxford University Press); “The American Democratic Tradition: Roger Williams to Barack Obama” (to be published by Princeton University Press); varieties of philosophical pragmatism in American culture from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century; and an essay collection on the practice of pragmatic hermeneutics in historical writing. He will next be on sabbatical leave in 2016-17.