Warren Breckman

Warren Breckman

Sheldon and Lucy Hackney Professor of History

Late and early modern European intellectual

215 898.8518

College Hall 206 E

Warren Breckman (Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley) is the Sheldon and Lucy Hackney Professor of History, with a focus on modern European intellectual and cultural history at the University of Pennsylvania.  His books include Karl Marx, the Young Hegelians, and the Origins of Radical Social Theory: Dethroning the Self (Cambridge, 1999; paperback 2001), European Romanticism: A Brief History with Documents (Bedford, 2007; Hackett, 2015), and Adventures of the Symbolic: Postmarxism and Radical Democracy (Columbia University Press, 2013). He is also the editor, with Peter E. Gordon, of the two volume The Cambridge History of Modern European Thought (Cambridge, 2019). In addition, he has published articles on the history of philosophy and political thought, the development of consumer culture, modernism and urban culture, historical theory, contemporary theory, and nationalism. His currently projects include: a study tentatively titled The Machiavellian Moment in Modern Thought, and a micro-history of World War One based on the diaries of a Canadian cavalryman.

Breckman has been a fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung, a member of the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study, and a visiting scholar at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris and the American Academy in Berlin.  He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Mellon Foundation, and the Social Sciences and Research Council of Canada.  From 2006 to 2016, he was the executive co-editor of the Journal of the History of Ideas.  He is a founding editor of the Zeitschrift für Ideengeschichte and a member of the editorial group of Lapham's Quarterly.

At Penn, Professor Breckman offers lecture courses on the intellectual and cultural history of Europe from the Enlightenment to the present, and he has taught seminars on themes such as the history of political thought, psychoanalysis, intellectuals and politics, Machiavelli, World War One, and theories of the self. In 1997, Professor Breckman was the first recipient of the Richard S. Dunn Award for Distinguished Teaching.

He works with graduate students on a wide range of topics in early modern and modern intellectual history. Topics of dissertations in progress or recently completed under his supervision include French debates about education from the 1760s to the French Revolution, German Jacobins, Romantic journals in Restoration France, German liberals and the bourgeois press in the decades after the Revolution of 1848, the Polish literary avant-garde from 1890 to 1925, the professionalization of Soviet journalism after 1956, the reconstruction of disciplinary philosophy in Germany after 1945, and the reception and publishing history of Karl Marx's Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. People interested in pursuing a PhD with Professor Breckman should contact him directly prior to the application deadline.

Office Hours
Mondays 2:00-3:00pm or by appointment

Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley, 1993

M.A. University of California, Berkeley, 1988

B.A. University of Winnipeg, 1986

Courses Taught


“European Intellectual History, 1750-1870”

“European Intellectual History, 1870-1950”

“European Intellectual History, 1950-1990”

“The Great War in Memoir and Memory”

“French Thought Since 1945”

“Berlin im Zeitalter der Revolutionen, 1750-1848” (taught in German at the Free University, Berlin)

“Berliner Kultur zwischen Kaiserreich und Weimarer Republik, 1870-1933” (taught in German at the Free University, Berlin)

“Masters of Suspicion: Marx, Nietzsche, Freud”

“Religion, Society, and the Symbolic in Modern French Thought”

“European Romanticism”

“Politics and Intellectuals in the Twentieth Century”

“Theories of State and Society”

“Democracy and Dictatorship in European Thought”

“From Freud to Oprah:  The Rise and Fall of Psychoanalysis in Twentieth-Century Culture”

“Philosophy of History”

“Non-American History Honors Program”



“Intellectuals and Politics in Modern Europe”

“Proseminar: Twentieth-Century European Intellectual and Cultural History”

“Proseminar: Nineteenth-Century European Intellectual and Cultural History”

“Politics and the Intellectual in Modern France”

“The Fate of the Self in Twentieth-Century Thought” 

CV (file)