I am a historian of modern Europe interested in the spread of radical social and political ideas. After receiving my Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, I became a postdoctoral associate and lecturer in the Humanities Program and history department at Yale University. I’m also a fellow in Yale’s Whitney Humanities Center. My research areas include resistance movements, German socialism, exile, human rights, critical theory, and modern revolutions.
Currently I’m finishing my first book, New Lefts: The Making of a Radical Tradition, 1920-1970, which argues that the New Left activism sweeping across Europe during the 1960s actually drew on radical precedents dating back to the interwar years. By analyzing the historical process by which “new lefts” emerged out of “old lefts,” this book identifies the patterns of militant behavior, non-party forms of organization, and recurrent theoretical problems that constituted the phenomenon of neoleftism. Not only generational conflict but also periodic frustration at communist and social democratic bureaucracy gave rise to splinter groups on the margins of mainstream politics. Antifascist and anti-authoritarian avant-gardes in Germany, France, Britain, and elsewhere made the last century’s most creative attempts to transform capitalist society and culture.
I’ve also started a new research project on the subversive metaphor of “the underground.” Beneath the surface of everyday life lies a substratum of clandestine deals, conspiracy, and crime. During the period of industrialization, people in the West began to imagine society as a hierarchically layered structure — and the dangerous classes lived below. In 1819, the German publicist Joseph Görres transposed social fears into a political key when he warned of a Jacobin “fire that burns underground.” This project explores the spatial imagination of resistance to oppression from the early nineteenth century to the present-day digital underground.
Articles of mine appear in The Historical Journal, Modern Intellectual History, and New German Critique. Download my CV here.