About

I'm a historian and editor working in the zone between scholarship and journalism.

At George Mason University, I contributed to the earliest projects of the Center for History and New Media, including the first U.S. history textbook on CD-ROM and the first U.S history course online. At Harvard University, I taught in the Committee on Degrees in Social Studies for seven years. I gave a yearlong sophomore seminar in European social theory (Hobbes to Habermas), taught junior-level seminars, and advised senior theses on topics in European and American history.

Leaving Harvard, I moved to Boston College for several years. I served as Visiting Assistant Professor of History and Visiting Scholar in the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life. I also worked as Lecturer on American Studies at Columbia University and as Visiting Assistant Professor of Social Science at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. I received my Ph.D. in the field of intellectual history from the University of Rochester.

When offered the opportunity to take over The Baffler, “the journal that blunts the cutting edge,” I moved its headquarters from Chicago to New York and created an independent, nonprofit foundation to superintend a rebuilt publishing operation. As Editor-in-Chief, I oversaw 13 print issues, plus daily content online, and led a nationwide events program.

Since 2017, I have been President of Lingua Franca Media, Inc., a nonprofit research institute.

I grew up in rural, conservative, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. I resettled in urban, liberal, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Much of my writing has limned cultural tensions between the two Americas. Every Fury on Earth collected some of my essays (reviews here and here).

I'm writing a biography of C. Wright Mills (1916-1962), the Texas-born sociologist who coined the term “public intellectual," as well as a family memoir that explores the generational transmission of reticence surrounding veterans of combat trauma.

Please contact me at john at johnsummers dot net