Peter E. Gordon works chiefly on themes in Continental philosophy and social thought in Germany and France in the late-modern era, with an emphasis on critical theory, Western Marxism, the Frankfurt School, phenomenology, and existentialism. He regularly teaches a survey of German Social Thought from Nietzsche to Habermas, and a survey of French Social Thought from Durkheim to Foucault. He also offers graduate seminars on themes in modern Continental social theory and intellectual history, including regularly-offered seminars on Adorno, Habermas, and political theology. Primarily a scholar of modern European social theory, he has published major work on Heidegger, the Frankfurt School, Jürgen Habermas, and Theodor W. Adorno. He has also written on Max Weber, Adorno's music criticism, Weimar Intellectuals, Hannah Arendt, political theology, theories of secularization, theories of historical ontology and historical epistemology, social theory after the Holocaust, and modern Jewish thought.
Born in Seattle, Washington, Peter E. Gordon attended the University of Chicago and Reed College, and received his PhD in modern European intellectual history from the University of California at Berkeley in 1997. From 1998 to 2000, he was a member of the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts at Princeton University. He joined the faculty at Harvard University in the autumn of 2000, and he was appointed to a position on the permanent faculty in 2005. He is currently Amabel B. James Professor of History, and, between 2010 and 2015, he was Harvard College Professor, an honorary title that is awarded to faculty for excellence in teaching. He is also a faculty affiliate at the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, an affiliate of the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, a faculty affiliate of the Department of Philosophy, and has a permanent seat on the Standing Committee for Degrees in Social Studies. He has been named a finalist twice for the Levinson Award for undergraduate teaching, and, in 2005, he received the Phi Beta Kappa Award for Excellence in Teaching. He has been the recipient of fellowships from Princeton University, and has been a visiting professor at the École Normale Supêrieure, and the School for Criticism and Theory at Cornell University
Professor Gordon serves on the editorial boards for Modern Intellectual History, The Journal of the History of Ideas, and New German Critique; he has written for The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Book Review, and The Nation; and he was a regular contributor of book reviews to The New Republic, in addition to other public journals and websites. He is co-editor of 'Intellectual History of the Modern Age,' a series published by Penn Press; he is also co-editor of the forthcoming The Cambridge History of Modern European Thought. He is currently working on a new book on secularization and social thought in the twentieth century. His newest book, entitled Adorno and Existence, was recently published by Harvard University Press (2016).