George Henry Davis 1886 Professor of American History, Princeton University

Siemens Fellow - Class of Spring 2015

Sean Wilentz is a historian of American politics and society from the Revolution to the present, with extensive publications in cultural history, especially about the twentieth century, including folk and popular music, and American art. He received his PhD in history from Yale University (1980) after earning bachelor’s degrees from Columbia University (1972) and Balliol College, Oxford University (1974).


His first book, Chants Democratic (Oxford, 1984), which won several national prizes, including the Albert J. Beveridge Award of the American Historical Association, shows how the working class emerged in and transformed New York City. In The Kingdom of Matthias (Oxford, 1994), Wilentz and coauthor Paul Johnson explore the darker corners of the Second Great Awakening. Wilentz is also coauthor of The Key of Liberty (Harvard, 1993) and editor of several other books, including Major Problems in the Early Republic (D.C. Heath, 1992) and The Rose and the Briar (W.W. Norton, 2004, with coeditor Greil Marcus). His major work to date, The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln (W.W. Norton, 2005), was awarded the Bancroft Prize and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His most recent books are The Age of Reagan: A History, 1974-2008 (HarperCollins, 2008), Bob Dylan in America (DoubleDay, 2010), and 360 Sound: The Columbia Records Story (Chronicle, 2012). A member of the editorial boards of Dissent and Democracy, Wilentz has written over three hundred articles, reviews, and op-ed pieces for the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, New York Review of Books, London Review of Books, The Nation, Le Monde, Salon, and elsewhere. His writings on music have earned him two Grammy nominations and two Deems Taylor-ASCAP awards. Wilentz is also the historian for Bob Dylan’s official website,