Seigel, Jerrold 1936–

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Seigel, Jerrold 1936–

(Jerrold Edward Seigel)


Born June 9, 1936, in St. Louis, MO; son of William and Katherine Seigel; married Jayn Rosenfeld (a musician), August 28, 1966; children: Micol, Jessica. Education: Harvard University, A.B., 1958; Princeton University, Ph.D., 1963.


Home—New York, NY. Office—Department of History, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08540. E-mail—[email protected].


Historian, educator, writer, and editor. Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, instructor, 1961-64, assistant professor, 1964-68, associate professor, 1968-78, professor of history, beginning 1978, and William J. Kenan, Jr., Professor of History; New York University, professor of history, 1988-2006, William R. Kenan professor, 1994-2006, professor emeritus, 2006—.


American Historical Association, American Association of University Professors, New York Institute for the Humanities.


Selma B. Forkosch prize for the best article in the Journal of the History of Ideas, 1987, for "Autonomy and Personality in Durkheim"; finalist in National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism, 1987, for Bohemian Paris; Fulbright fellow, National Endowment for Humanities fellow; Guggenheim fellow.


Rhetoric and Philosophy in Renaissance Humanism, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1968.

(Editor, with T.K. Rabb) Action and Conviction in Early Modern Europe, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1969.

Marx's Fate: The Shape of a Life, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1978.

Bohemian Paris: Culture, Politics, and the Boundaries of Bourgeois Life, 1830-1930, Viking (New York, NY), 1986.

(Editor) Figures on the Horizon, University of Rochester Press (Rochester, NY), 1993.

The Private Worlds of Marcel Duchamp: Desire, Liberation, and the Self in Modern Culture, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 1995.

The Idea of the Self: Thought and Experience in Western Europe since the Seventeenth Century, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2005.

Contributor to books, including Dictionary of the History of Ideas, Scribner's, 1973, Rediscovering History: Culture, Politics and the Psyche, edited by Michael S. Roth, 1994, and Beyond the Cultural Turn: New Directions in the Study of Society and Culture, edited by Lynn Hunt and Victoria Bonnel, 1999. Contributor of articles and reviews to scholarly journals, including American Scholar, History of European Ideas, and Journal of Interdisciplinary History.


Jerrold Seigel is a historian whose primary interests are social and cultural theory, history of selfhood and subjectivity, and relations between art and society. He has written both journal articles and books about his interests, including Bohemian Paris: Culture, Politics, and the Boundaries of Bourgeois Life, 1830-1930. Published in 1986, the book is a history of the denizens of the Parisian counterculture movement over an ever-changing period in French history. The author examines the rich and complex bohemian lifestyle, which Seigel sees as representing the bourgeois's attempts to act out the conflicts of their social identities in a post-revolutionary society. In the process, he profiles many of the most famous people who lived in Bohemian Paris, from the artist Gustav Courbet to film director Jean Cocteau, who lived the bohemian lifestyle as a young man. "Seigel's excellent book does provide a corrective to … narrowly moralistic readings of cultural renegades," wrote Jay Tolson in the Nation. In a review for the New Leader, George Woodcock called the book "an interesting study of the circumstances that resulted in a name with a long shelf life being given to the perennial conflict between the artist and society."

In his 2005 book, The Idea of the Self: Thought and Experience in Western Europe since the Seventeenth Century, Seigel explores the question: What is the self? Using both theoretical and contextual approaches, Siegel writes about key figures and thoughts in the quest to answer this question. In the process, the author presents a case against the prevailing idea in the West that the self is essentially egocentric and disengaged from the life around it. "There is something rather sweeping about this study, not only in its historical scope, but also in its philosophical analysis," wrote Michael W. Tkacz in the Review of Metaphysics, adding later that the author "has provided a history of the self that can serve as a profoundly useful starting point for … a [philosophical] discussion." Canadian Journal of History contributor Janine C. Hartman called The Idea of the Self "nothing less than an extraordinary portal into experience, emerging ideas, and verbal interaction from the seventeenth century to the present."



Canadian Journal of History, winter, 2006, Janine C. Hartman, review of The Idea of the Self: Thought and Experience in Western Europe since the Seventeenth Century, p. 628.

Nation, April 5, 1986, Jay Tolson, review of Bohemian Paris: Culture, Politics, and the Boundaries of Bourgeois Life, 1830-1930, p. 492.

New Leader, March 24, 1986, George Woodcock, review of Bohemian Paris, p. 16.

Reference & Research Book News, May, 2006, review of The Idea of the Self.

Review of Metaphysics, March, 2006, Michael W. Tkacz, review of The Idea of the Self, p. 682.


New York University Department of History Web site, (April 10, 2008), faculty profile of author.