I am a professor of modern intellectual history at New York University: I research and write histories of concepts that weave together modern understandings of the human, of time, and of the body. This means that sometimes I work more in conceptual history, sometimes more in history of science or historical epistemology. I like to think that these fields cross over with others in fun and generative ways.

My principal research project for the coming years concerns the figure of the "New Man" in modern thought, science, and aesthetics—a study in the articulations and pursuits of a transformation and regeneration of "human nature." This project involves overviews of the aesthetic politics of regeneration from 1789 to the 1960s and of the sciences that imagined, tested, and sought to use human plasticity, roughly from the 1880s to the 1950s. It will also study key episodes in the two centuries after 1789, including the institution of the Napoleonic code and its sociopolitical implications; and the temporality of the Nazi "New Man." Another, related research project tracks the modern inventions and deployments of human "prehistory" in political and scientific arguments.

I am currently also editing, with Natasha Wheatley and Dan Edelstein, a major book on Power and Time (under contract with the University of Chicago Press); with Maria Stavrinaki, a special issue of Res: Anthropology and Aesthetics on "Writing Prehistory;" and with Leif Weatherby, a special journal issue (under review) on Cybernetics and the Human Sciences.


I've written or co-written four books: The Human Body in the Age of Catastrophe: Brittleness, Science, Integration and the Great War (with Todd Meyers, 2018); Transparency in Postwar France: A Critical History of the Present (2017); An Atheism that is Not Humanist Emerges in French Thought (2010); and Experimente im Individuum (with Todd Meyers, 2014). I've also co-translated two of Georges Canguilhem's books, and I have edited several volumes, most recently. The Scaffolding of Sovereignty (with Zvi Ben-Dor Benite and Nicole Jerr, 2017).

Recent graduate courses include: "Concepts of the New Man, 1770-1970", "Time and Power," and, in fall 2018, "The Sciences of Power: Knowledge and Human Plasticity." Recent undergraduate courses include: "The Birth of the Human" (for NYU's Core Curriculum)," and, for fall 2018, "The Normal and the Abnormal: Sex, Power and the Psyche in Twentieth-Century European Intellectual History."

I came to NYU in 2008, after receiving my BA from Princeton (2001) and PhD from Johns Hopkins (2008). In 2015-2017 I was Director of the Center for International Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences (Centre National de Recherche Scientifique/NYU, UMI 3199), after serving as Associate Director of the Remarque Institute in 2015.


Related sites:

NYU History Dept. website

Crossroads of Intellectual History (PUF Project 2016-2019, co-PI with Gisèle Sapiro, EHESS)

Journal of the History of Ideas (please submit your work!)

Consortium for Intellectual and Cultural History (NYU/Columbia)



The image on the left is 'Epithalamion', a 1968 painting by Yannis Moralis that I've long wanted to use as a book cover (courtesy of Peggy Zoumboulakis Gallery and in agreement with the late Y.M.).

email sg127 [at] nyu.edu