Dominick LaCapra

Dominick LaCapra received his B.A. from Cornell and his Ph. D. from Harvard. He began teaching in Cornell’s History Department in 1969 and is currently Bryce and Edith M. Bowmar Professor of Humanistic Studies.  He has a joint appointment in the Department of Comparative Literature and is member of the field of Romance Studies and the Program in Jewish Studies.  At Cornell he received the Clark Award for distinguished teaching.  He also served for two years as Acting Director and for ten as Director of Cornell’s Society for the Humanities.  In addition to being a senior fellow of the School of Criticism and Theory (SCT), LaCapra was SCT’s Associate Director from 1996 to 2000, and its Director from 2000 to 2008.  He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

LaCapra has edited The Bounds of Race: Perspectives on Hegemony and Resistance (1991) and with Steven L. Kaplan co-edited Modern European Intellectual History: Reappraisals and New Perspectives.  He has written thirteen books.  With Cornell University Press, he has published: Emile Durkheim: Sociologist and Philosopher (1972), A Preface to Sartre (1978), “Madame Bovary” on Trial (1982), Rethinking Intellectual History: Texts, Contexts, Language (1983), History and Criticism (1985), History, Politics, and the Novel (1987), Soundings in Critical Theory (1989), Representing the Holocaust: History, Theory, Trauma (1994), History and Memory after Auschwitz (1998), History in Transit: Experience, Identity, Critical Theory and History and Its Limits: Human, Animal, Violence (2009).  He has also published History and Reading: Tocqueville, Foucault, French Studies (University of Toronto Press, 2000 and Writing History, Writing Trauma (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001).

The significance of LaCapra’s work has been discussed in many reviews, essays, and books, including Robert Berkhofer, Jr., Beyond the Great Story: History as Text and Discourse (Harvard University Press, 1995), Lynn Hunt, ed., The New Cultural History (University of California Press, 1989), and Peter Novick, That Noble Dream: The “Objectivity” Question and the American Historical Profession (Cambridge University Press, 1988).  Elizabeth A. Clark’s History, Theory, Text: Historians and the Linguistic Turn (Harvard University Press, 2004) provides a critical survey of recent developments in intellectual and cultural history and places LaCapra’s work in this context.  Rethinking History 8 (2004) contains an essay LaCapra was invited by the editors to write (“Tropisms of Intellectual History”) that retrospectively reflects on his work.  The issue also includes four essays that respond to LaCapra’s contribution and provide appraisals of his role in the historical profession (by Ernst van Alphen, Carolyn Dean, Allan Megill, and Michael Roth).