A Brief Biography

Curriculum Vitae

Peter E. Gordon is the Amabel B. James Professor of History, Faculty Affilitate in the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, and Faculty Affiliate in the Department of Philosophy at Harvard University. He 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.  Primarily a scholar of modern European social theory, he has published major works on Heidegger, the Frankfurt School, Jürgen Habermas, and Theodor W. Adorno.  His book Rosenzweig and Heidegger:  Between Judaism and German Philosophy (2003) received four international awards, including the Salo Baron Prize for the best book in Jewish history, the Goldstein-Goren Prize for the best book in Jewish philosophy, and the Forkosch Prize from the Journal of the History of Ideas. His second book, Continental Divide:  Heidegger, Cassirer, Davos (2010) received the prestigious Jacques Barzun Prize from the American Philosophical Society.  His third and more recent monograph, Adorno and Existence, was published by Harvard University Press in 2016.  His next book, Migrants in the Profane: Critical Theory and the Question of Secularization, was based on lectures he gave at Yale University in the Franz Rosenzweig Lectures in Modern Jewish Thought; it is forthcoming from Yale University Press (Fall, 2020).  He is also co-author of Authoritarianism: Three Inquiries in Critical Theory with Wendy Brown and Max Pensky (2018).   In June, 2019, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Theodor W. Adorno's death in 1969, he delivered the Adorno Vorlesungen at the Institute for Social Research at the Goethe-Universität Frankfurt, on the theme, "Adorno and the Sources of Normativity."  The lectures, widely reviewed in the German press, including the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeiting, will be published by Suhrkamp Verlag.  He has also edited numerous collections, including The Cambridge Companion to Modern Jewish Philosophy (2007); The Modernist Imagination:  Essays in Intellectual History and Critical Theory (2008); Weimar Thought:  A Contested Legacy (2013); and The Trace of God: Derrida and Religion (2014).  He is co-editor with Warren Breckman of The Cambridge History of Modern European Thought (forthcoming), and he is co-editor with Espen Hammer and Axel Honneth of The Routledge Companion to the Frankfurt School (2018), and co-editor with Espen Hammer and Max Pensky of  A Companion to Adorno (forthcoming from Blackwell).  He also helped to edit and wrote the introduction for the new edition of Adorno et al, The Authoritarian Personality (2019).  His most recent book, based on his spring 2016 lectures at Yale, is Migrants in the Profane: Critical Theory and the Question of Secularization (forthcoming from Yale University Press, 2019).  He is currently writing a longer, more comprehensive study of secularization and social theory since Max Weber.  A full listing of his publications can be found by consulting the "publications" link, by consulting his CV, or by following the link above to publications on amazon.

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 Princeton Society of Fellows.  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, Faculty Affiliate at the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Faculty Affiliate of the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, and Faculty Affiliate of the Department of Philosophy.  He also has a permanent seat on the Standing Committee for Degrees in Social Studies.  He regularly teaches a survey of German Social Thought from Nietzsche to Habermas, and a survey of French Social Thought from Durkheim to Foucault.  Between 2010 and 2015, he was Harvard College Professor, an honorary title that is awarded to faculty for excellence in teaching. 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.  For the year 2017-18 he was awarded a Walter Channing Cabot Fellowship for excellence in scholarship. He has been the recipient of fellowships from Princeton University, and has been a visiting professor at the École Normale Supérieure, and the School for Criticism and Theory at Cornell University.  In June, 2019 he delivered the Adorno Lectures at the Goethe Universität Frankfurt on the 50th anniversary of the death of Theodor W. Adorno. 

Professor Gordon serves on the editorial boards for Modern Intellectual History, The Journal of the History of Ideas, Jewish Social Studiesand New German Critique; he has published reviews in The New York Times Book Review, The New RepublicThe Boston Review of BooksThe Nation, and The New York Review of Books. He is co-editor of 'Intellectual History of the Modern Age,' a series published by Penn Press; he is also co-editor, with Axel Honneth and Espen Hammer, of The Routledge Companion to the Frankfurt School (forthcoming), and coeditor, with Warren Breckman, of The Cambridge History of Modern European Thought (forthcoming). His newest book, entitled Adorno and Existencewas published by Harvard University Press in 2016. He is currently writing a new book on secularization and social thought in the twentieth century.