Mark Lilla

Mark Lilla

Research Interests


Fall 2020

  • Writers on History: Thomas Mann (4 Credits)
    History GU4693
    This seminar is devoted to examining the work of writers who address the nature and course of history in their imaginative and non-fiction work. This semester we will be exploring the work of Thomas Mann in the context of the First and Second World Wars. This will include his relation to the German “conservative revolution,” the Weimar political experience, and the United States, where he spent several years in exile.  We will pay particular attention to his conceptions of modern history as expressed in his novels.

  • Topics in American Studies: Tocqueville (4 Credits)
    American Studies UN3930
    Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America is considered a classic study on the United States. But more fundamentally it is an analysis of the democratic human type (l’homme démocratique) with his or her distinctive passions, fears, aspirations, prejudices, and self-image. In this seminar we will focus on Tocqueville’s psychology and the light it might shed on American culture


Mark Lilla, Professor of Humanities, specializes in intellectual history, with a particular focus on Western political and religious thought. Before moving to Columbia in 2007 he taught in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago and at New York University. A regular contributor to the New York Review of Books, he is the author of The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics (2017), The Shipwrecked Mind: On Political Reaction (2016), The Stillborn God: Religion, Politics, and the Modern West (2007),The Reckless Mind: Intellectuals in Politics (2001),and G.B. Vico: The Making of an Anti-Modern (1993). He has also edited The Legacy of Isaiah Berlin (2001) with Ronald Dworkin and Robert Silvers, and The Public Face of Architecture (1987) with Nathan Glazer. He is currently writing a book titled Ignorance and Bliss, and another on the history of the idea of conversion.


  • Ph.D. — Harvard University, 1990
  • M.P.P. — Harvard University, 1980
  • A.B. — University of Michigan, 1978