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Wilson Moses

Wilson Moses

Ferree Professor of American History

Curriculum Vitae

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  1. PhD, Brown University, 1975
  2. MA, Wayne State University, 1967
  3. AB, Wayne State University, 1965


My Ph.D. is in American Civilization (Brown University, 1975).  From 1978 to 1980 I did post-doctoral studies in the University of Cambridge with a dining right in St. Catharine’s, and a grant from the Ford Foundation. During those years, I lectured in Budapest and in Africa for the State Department.  My undergraduate and early graduate studies focused on British literature, from Milton to the Romantics and classical and Germanic mythology.  I enjoyed Richard Wagner’s libretto for Der Ring Des Niebelungen and the various German dialects preserved in Wilhelm und Jacob Grimm’s Kinder- und Hausmärchen. While teaching at the Free University of Berlin and the University of Vienna, I conducted office hours in German. While studying at the Catholic University of Paris and completing the Cours de Civilisation Française de la Sorbonne, I read Charles Perrault Les Contes de ma mère l’Oye, and studied various restorations of the medieval legend, Tristan et Yseut. I am particularly interested in the nineteenth century reception of that legend, as in Tennyson, Henry Adams, Matthew Arnold, and Wagner.  I have published encyclopedia articles on “Racism” in Mozart’s Zauberflöte” and “Anti-Semitism” in Wagner’s operas.

I teach several areas of intellectual history, primarily American.  I have published six single-author books, often featuring the philosophical idealism of two African American intellectuals, who studied in nineteenth century Europe.  Alexander Crummell: A Study of Civilization and Discontent is a biography of a neo-Platonist, who passed bachelors examinations in classical Greek in the University of Cambridge (1849-1853).  I have published frequently on W. E. B. Du Bois, who studied in the University of Berlin (1892-1894), and was influenced as much by Hegel, Goethe and Wagner as by Marx.  I published “Benjamin Franklin and the Gilded Age” in The Cambridge Companion to Benjamin Franklin (2008), and, “Du Bois, Africa and Pan-Africanism” in The Cambridge Companion to W. E. B. Du Bois, (2008). I delivered a paper on “Emersonian Historicism and the Constitutional Theory of Frederick Douglass,” at a conference on The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass at Indianapolis, October 2012. Three lectures from my forthcoming book, Thomas Jefferson and the Notion of Liberty, were delivered in February 2013 as the Nathan Huggins Lectures at Harvard University. A lecture, "Thomas Jefferson: Private Heresy and Civic Religion," was delivered at The McNeil Center of the University of Pennsylvania January 17, 2014.  I delivered a lecture on "Thomas Jefferson's Notions of Liberty" at the University of Virginia in February 2014.   I have also completed a collection of essays, gathered under the title: Segregation Nostalgia, based on previously unpublished lectures I have delivered at the University of Oxford, the University of Indiana, the University of Berlin, Davidson College, the University of Pennsylvania, The University of Delaware, and at the meetings of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.

Recent Publications:

“‘The Ever Present Now:’ Frederick Douglass’ Pragmatic Constitutionalism” Journal of African American History, Winter 2013-14.

Review Essay, Up From History: The Life of Booker T. Washington. By Robert J. Norrell. in The Alabama Review, January 2010, pp. 62-71.

“W. E. B. Du Bois on “Africa and Pan-Africanism” in Shamoon Zamir, ed., Cambridge Companion to W. E. B. Du Bois. Cambridge University Press, 2008.

Benjamin Franklin, “Prophet of the Gilded Age: Protestant Ethic and Conspicuous Consumption,” in Carla Mulford, ed., Cambridge Companion to Benjamin Franklin. Cambridge University Press, 2008.

Edited with introduction, Black Folk Then and Now, by W. E. B. Du Bois.  Oxford University Press, 2007

“Alexander Crummell and the Belief in African Superiority,” in Theodore Louis Trost, “editor”; The African Diaspora and the Study of Religion. Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.

Awards and Service:

Member of the Society of American Historians, Inducted 2004
Pennsylvania State University, Faculty Scholars Medal for Distinction in the Arts and Humanities
Fullbright Visiting Professorship University of Vienna, 1987-88
Fulbright Visiting Professorship, Free University of Berlin, 1983-84
Visiting Professorship, Wilhelm Pieck Univeristy, German Democratic Republic, 1983
National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for University Teachers, 1988

Recent Courses:

HIST001 - The Western Heritage I
HIST442 - The Early American Republic, 1783-1850
HIST463 - American Thought to 1865