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Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn

Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn

Contact Information:


322 Eggers Hall

Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn

Professor, History Department

Senior Research Associate, Campbell Public Affairs Institute

Highest degree earned

Ph.D., University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 1990


Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn focuses on ideas and their intricacy, inner-workings and importance in the lives of individuals and society, past and present. In addition to modern and contemporary American social, cultural and intellectual history, she has broader temporal, geographical and interdisciplinary interests extending back to antiquity, especially philosophy, comparative literature, cultural and media criticism, languages and classical reception. Her teaching and research integrate specialist and generalist sensibilities and she is in close conversation with scholars in many fields.

Lasch-Quinn’s new book, "Ars Vitae: The Fate of Inwardness and the Return of the Ancient Arts of Living"  (University of Notre Dame Press, October 2020), explores ideas in ancient Greco-Roman philosophy and modern American culture about how to live. Her earlier books include "Black Neighbors: Race and the Limits of Reform in the American Settlement House Movement,1890-1945" (University of North Carolina; winner of the Berkshire prize), and "Race Experts: How Sensitivity Training, Interracial Etiquette, and New Age Therapy Hijacked the Civil Rights Revolution" (W. W. Norton; reviewed in the New York Times, London Times, among others). 

She has edited books on the contemporary historical profession (Routledge) as well as women and the common life (W. W. Norton). Her writing appears widely in both scholarly and prominent public venues such as "The New Republic and The Hedgehog Review" and includes numerous essays, articles, op-eds and book reviews on a range of subjects from race and community to civil society, therapeutic culture, democratic citizenship, self, emotion, moral imagination, children, popular culture, love and the life of the mind.

A Fulbright fellow, she has received many research grants and fellowships, including from Yale University’s Whitney Humanities Center, the PEW and Templeton foundations, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and UVA’s Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, and taught graduate seminars at Yale and the University of Rome, Italy. She has taught and advised many Ph.D. students at Syracuse, where she served as director of Graduate Studies in history.

Throughout the U.S. and in London, Rome and Naples, she has delivered many presentations and invited lectures, including commencement and conference keynote addresses. Devoted to her students and colleagues at Syracuse University and in the profession, she has received awards for her undergraduate and graduate teaching and advising as well as her research and service.

Professor of history and senior research associate in the Campbell Public Affairs institute, Lasch-Quinn is an acknowledged contributor to scholarly and public discourse nationally and internationally. She has been sought out as consultant in a variety of settings, from tv and radio talk show, documentary, college president, and museum, to Office of the Prime Minister (U.K.).

Areas of Expertise

Modern American society, culture, thought; cultural criticism; intellectual history; history of ideas, self, emotion, art of living, ancient and modern; therapeutic culture, civil society, community, race, family; contemplative learning

Research Interests

Ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, modern culture and thought, American and European intellectual history, the arts, Platonism and Neoplatonism.



Ars Vitae: The Fate of Inwardness and the Return of the Ancient Arts of Living (University of Notre Dame Press, 2020).

Race Experts: How Racial Etiquette, Sensitivity Training, and New Age Therapy Hijacked the Civil Rights Revolution
 (W. W. Norton and Co., 2001; Rowman & Littlefield, 2002, paperback).

Black Neighbors: Race and the Limits of Reform in the American Settlement House Movement, 1890-1945
 (University of North Carolina Press, 1993). Annual Book Award Winner, Berkshire Conference of Women Historians.

Edited Books

Triumph of the Therapeutic: Uses of Faith after Freud, edited edition of classic 1966 work by sociologist Philip Rieff (Wilmington: ISI, 2006).

Reconstructing History: The Emergence of a New Historical Society, edited with Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, essays on the study of history and the historical profession (Routledge, 1999).

Women and the Common Life: Love, Marriage, and Feminism, edited essays by historian Christopher Lasch (New York: W. W. Norton, 1997).

Recent Essays

Co-authored with Matthew D. Stewart, “Beyond Critique: Philip Rieff’s Positive Vision,” Jonathan Imber, ed., The Anthem Companion to Philip Rieff (London, UK, 2018).

“The New Old Ways of Self-Help” in The Hedgehog Review 19, 1 (Spring 2017), 70-80.

“Individual Liberty and Civic Practices” in Donald W. Harward, ed. (Director, Bringing Theory to Practice Project), Civic Values and Civic Practices, 2013, 73-81.

“Inarticulate by Choice: The Decline of Letter Writing and the Future of the Intellectual Past,” essay series in seven parts (July 22, July 29, August 5, August 12, August 21, August 26, September 16, 2012), Society for United States Intellectual History Blog.

“From Rome with Love,” essay series in six parts (May 6, May 13, May 21, June 3, June 17, June 25, 2012), Society for United States Intellectual History Blog. Reflections as Fulbright Fellow, republished on U.S.-Italy Fulbright website.

“From Inwardness to Intravidualism,” Hedgehog Review (Spring 2011), 43-51.

“Contemporary Social Thought,” in Martin Halliwell and Catherine Morley, eds., American Thought and Culture in the Twenty-first Century (NY: Edinburgh Univ. Press, 2009).

“Introduction” to Philip Rieff, Triumph of the Therapeutic: Uses of Faith after Freud (Wilmington, Delaware: ISI Publishing, 2007); new critical edition, vii-xxvi.

“A Stranger’s Dream: The Contemporary Socialization Crisis and the Rise of the Virtual Self,” in Wilfred M. McClay, ed., Figures in the Carpet: Finding the Human Person in the American Past (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2007), 232-262.

“Bringing Up Baby,” Wilson Quarterly (Spring 2003), 109-112. Review essay on the history of childrearing. 

Select Notable Citations

Kenan Malik, “Enough of the Psychobabble,” Guardian (July 12, 2020).

John McWhorter, “The Virtue Signalers Won’t Change the World,” Atlantic (December 23, 2018).

Molly Worthen, “Stop Saying ‘I Feel Like’,” New York Times (Sunday Review), May 1, 2016, p. SR4; also cited on numerous blogs.

David Brooks, “The Society of Surfaces,” New York Times (Opinion Pages), April 29, 2011.

Kershaw, S. “Talk about Race? Relax, It’s O.K.” New York Times (Fashion and Style), January 15, 2009, p. E1.

Geske, A. “Land of the Lost Parents,” Utne Reader, Nov.-Dec. 2003, 74-75.

Previous Teaching Appointments

Teaching Appointments & Fellowships

Senior Fellow, Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, University of Virginia

Non-Residential Visiting Faculty Fellow, Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture Foundation: In Media Res, University of Virginia 

Pellicone Faculty Scholar, Department of History, Syracuse University

Affiliated Faculty Member, Honor’s Program, Syracuse University

Full Professor (with tenure), Department of History, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University

Senior Research Associate, Campbell Public Affairs Institute

Research Fellow, Religion and Innovation in Human Affairs Program, The Historical Society & John Templeton Foundation

Spring 2012 
Fulbright Fellow and Senior Lecturer, Department of American Studies, University of Rome III (Dipartimento di Studi Euro-Americani, Università di Roma Tre), Rome, Italy

Research Fellow, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, DC

Associate Professor, Department of History, Syracuse University

Research Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor, Whitney Humanities Center and Program in American Studies, Yale University

Assistant Professor, Department of History, Syracuse University