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UMass Sesquicentennial

University of Massachusetts Amherst

History Department

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Daniel Gordon


Professor of History


Office: Herter 627
Telephone: (413) 545-2223


Degrees: Ph.D., University of Chicago (1990). MSL, Yale Law School (2003). B.A. Columbia University (1983).

Fields of interest: European history, European and American social and political thought, comparative law, history of higher education.


Sample Scholarly Accomplishments:

Citizens Without Sovereignty (Princeton University Press, 1994) is assigned in many graduate seminars and cited in textbooks as a contribution to the debate about the origins of the French Revolution (see e.g., Paul R. Hanson, Contesting the French Revolution, 2009; p. 16).

Candide (Bedford Saint Martins, 1999) is a translation of a classic, based on original translation principles, and has sold 50,000 copies; widely assigned in undergraduate survey courses on European history.

As a history professor, taught the department's first Integrative Experience course. Developed (with Bruce Laurie) the first historiography seminar for all first year grad students (the template for this course has been used for many years by other instructors). As a tenured professor, earned a law degree at Yale, developed expertise in U.S .constitutional history, and took on courses formerly taught by Milton Cantor (retired), while continuing to offer courses in my original specialty, European history.

As a journal editor, helped bring Historical Reflections to a higher level of recognition by moving the journal to a new publisher (Berghahn) and getting the journal onto JSTOR. I have also personally edited the writing of hundreds of scholars.

Professional Positions:

Professor of history (1995-present) and interim dean of the Commonwealth Honors College (August 2013-2015)

Cooeditor of the journal Historical Reflections (2002-present)

Postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford (1989-91).

Assistant professor of History and of History and Literature at Harvard (1991-1995).

Two visiting appointments since1995: visiting associate professor Stanford (1998-99), visiting professor at the Collège de France (2002).


Primary Educational Interests:

The history of political and legal ideas, from the Enlightenment to the present.  Course offerings include Western Thought, U.S. Constitutional History, Ideas that Changed History ,Foreign Perceptions of the United States, and Comparative Law.
I have promoted integrative thinking, leadership, and entrepreneurship inside the history department and in programs like BDIC, Commonwealth Honors College, and General Education.

Selected Publications:

Citizens Without Sovereignty,(book, Princeton University Press, 1994).

Translation of Voltaire's Candide (Bedford St. Martins, 1999). Over 40,000 copies sold.

Editor of Postmodernism and the Enlightenment (Routledge, 2001).

"The Theater of Terror: The Jacobin Execution in Comparative and Theoretical Perspective," Historical Reflections (Summer, 2003)

Articles in the Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment (Oxford UP, 2003) on "Citizenship," "Ernst Cassirer," "Sociability," and other topics.

Editor (with Michael Kwass) of Money in the Enlightenment, a special volume of Historical Reflections (Summer, 2005).

“From Emergency Law to Legal Process: Herbert Wechsler and the Second World War,” Suffolk University Law Review (2007), co-authored with Malick W. Ghachem.

"Why Is There No Headscarf Affair in the United States?" Historical Reflections (Winter 2008).

"Raymon Aron on Secular Religion and Communism," Journal of Classical Sociology (2011).

"The Confidence Factor in Liberal Education," Liberal Education (fall 2012).

"Unmasking and Disclosure as Sociological Practices: Contrasting Modes for Understanding Religious and Other Beliefs," Journal of Sociology (December, 2012). Co-authored with Peter Baehr.

"From the Headscarf to the Burqa: The Role of Social Theorists in Shaping Laws on the Veil," Economy and Society (May, 2013). co-authored with Peter Baehr.

"Research for Whom?" (A history of the concept of academic research from 1820 to the present.) To appear in Knowledge for Whom? ed. Andreas Hess and Christian Fleck (Ashgate, 2013).

"Raynal and the Colonial Public Sphere," to appear in Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century (2013).

Numerous review essays for History and Theory, including "Is Tocqueville Defunct?" (vol. 43, 2004).

Some favorite thoughts:

"If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, who am I?" (Rabbi Hillel)

"All history is the history of thought." (R.G. Collingwood)