Julian Zelizer: A political historian political scientists read
As the presidential campaign focuses attention on America’s future, Princeton’s Julian Zelizer is emerging as a prominent political scholar — known for bringing historical insights to today’s issues with a blend of social and cultural analysis.
Zelizer, who joined the University faculty in July as a professor of history and public affairs, utilizes a broad approach to studying political history, and coming to Princeton has provided him with an opportunity to further his interdisciplinary connections through his position in the Department of History and Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
“I’m a true historian, but I never like to be confined by boundaries,” he said. “I’ve learned from social science, political science, social history. To do it right, it has to be done without any rigid disciplinary boundaries.”
Nolan McCarty, acting dean of the Wilson School and the Susan Dod Brown Professor of Politics and Public Affairs, said Zelizer is a clear leader among a new generation of historians revitalizing the field of political history by combining research on politics and policy with social and cultural studies.
“One of the reasons why Julian is an important addition to the Wilson School is that he is one of the very few political historians whose work is as well known and highly regarded among political scientists as it is among historians,” McCarty said.
Bruce Schulman, a professor of history at Boston University, credited Zelizer with helping to substantially reshape the study of 20th-century U.S. history.
“His research has proved influential in political science and sociology, as well as history,” said Schulman, who had Zelizer as a colleague at Boston University from 2004 to 2007. “It is no exaggeration to say that by having Julian Zelizer join the faculty, Princeton has immediately become the leading center in modern American political history.”
In addition to benefiting from interdisciplinary collaborations, coming to Princeton has enabled Zelizer to embrace his family roots by working at the same University as his mother, Viviana, the Lloyd Cotsen ’50 Professor of Sociology.
“It’s nice to teach at the same institution as a parent; it doesn’t happen very often,” said Zelizer, who believes he and his mom are the University’s first mother-son teaching pair. “Given how small Princeton is, we already have many connections of similar friends.”
Zelizer and his mother, Viviana, the Lloyd Cotsen ’50 Professor of Sociology, believe they are the University’s first mother-son teaching pair. Growing up, Zelizer said he learned about the “excitement and challenges” of working at a university through his mother and developed an equal love of study and scholarship through his father, Gerald, a rabbi.
Zelizer now lives near the New Jersey town where he was raised, Metuchen, and the synagogue where his father, Gerald, has been a rabbi for more than 30 years....
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