Sophia Rosenfeld

Sophia Rosenfeld

Walter H. Annenberg Professor of History

European and American Intellectual and Cultural History since 1650; Age of Revolutions (esp. France); History of Democracy; Historical Methods


College Hall 307


Sophia Rosenfeld is Walter H. Annenberg Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania, where she teaches European intellectual and cultural history with a special emphasis on the Enlightenment, the trans-Atlantic Age of Revolutions, and the legacy of the eighteenth century for modern democracy.  She is the author of Revolution in Language: The Problem of Signs in Late Eighteenth-Century France (Stanford, 2001); Common Sense: A Political History (Harvard, 2011), which won the Mark Lynton History Prize and the Society for the History of the Early American Republic Book Prize; and Democracy and Truth: A Short History (Penn Press, 2019).  Her articles and essays have appeared in leading scholarly journals, including the American Historical Review, the Journal of Modern History, French Historical Studies, and the William and Mary Quarterly, as well as The New York Times, The Washington Post, Dissent, and The Nation.  Her writing is also available or forthcoming in French, Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, and Chinese.  From 2013-17, she co-edited the journal Modern Intellectual History

Currently she is co-editing (with Peter Struck, Penn Classics Department) a six-volume book series for Bloomsbury on the cultural history of ideas since antiquity. She is also writing a book, to be published by Princeton University Press, on how the idea and practice of making choices from menus of options became so central to modern conceptions of freedom.  Among her other ongoing interests are the history of the emotions and the senses; the history of free speech, dissent, and censorship; the history of aesthetics, including dance; the history of political language; contemporary political theory and feminist theory; the history of epistemology; the history of information and misinformation; and experimental historical methods. 

Rosenfeld received her B.A. from Princeton University and her Ph.D. from Harvard University. She has held fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton, the Mellon Foundation, both the Remarque Institute and the Center for Ballet and the Arts at NYU, and the American Council of Learned Societies, as well as visiting professorships at the University of Virginia School of Law and the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales. Prior to arriving at Penn in January 2017, she was Professor of History at Yale University and, before that, the University of Virginia. She also served a three-year term from 2018 to 2021 as Vice President, in charge of the Research Division, of the American Historical Association.  

Office Hours
Monday, 3:30PM-5:00PM and by appointment

Ph.D. Harvard University, 1996

M.A. Harvard University, 1990 

A.B. Princeton University, 1988

CV (file)