Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen

Position title: Senior Fellow (2019-2023)

Merle Curti and Vilas-Borghesi Distinguished Achievement Professor of History, Department of History, UW–Madison

Black and white portrait of Jennifer Ratener-Rosenhagen smiling in front of a white background wearing a dark shirt or dress and a large necklace

The American Ways of Wisdom: A History

The American Ways of Wisdom is a history of “philosophy” (the love of wisdom) in 20th-century American life. It examines how Americans have understood wisdom, and how they sought to find it in their lives. AWW explores wisdom’s curious forms — as thought, both academic and popular; as embodied in the figures of the professional intellectual and spiritual searcher; and as a cultural practice. It aims to offer a more expansive view of the intellectual and cultural role of philosophy by tracing this yearning as it moved from disciplinary philosophy to other academic fields, from the academy to popular culture (and back), and from mainline religious seminaries and congregations to new-found spiritual centers.

Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen is the Merle Curti and Vilas-Borghesi Distinguished Achievement Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research focuses on 19th- and 20th-century U.S. thought and culture in transatlantic perspective. She is the author of The Ideas That Made America: A Brief History (Oxford, 2019) and the award-winning American Nietzsche: A History of an Icon and His Ideas (Chicago, 2012), and is co-editor of Protest on the Page: Essays on Print and the Cultures of Dissent (Wisconsin, 2015), with James Danky and the late James Baughman, and The Worlds of American Intellectual History (Oxford, 2016) with Joel Isaac, James Kloppenberg, and the late Michael O’Brien. In addition to writing for a number of scholarly and disciplinary journals, she has written essays and reviews for New York Times, Washington Post, Time, Guardian, Chronicle of Higher Education, Daedalus, Raritan, Wilson Quarterly, Los Angeles Review of Books, Dissent, and Aeon, among others.