Dominick LaCapra

Dominick LaCapra (born 1939) is an American-born historian of European intellectual history, best known for his work in intellectual history and trauma studies. He served as the Bryce and Edith M. Bowmar Professor of Humanistic Studies at Cornell University, where he is now a professor emeritus.


LaCapra received his B.A. from Cornell and his Ph.D. from Harvard. He began teaching at the Cornell University Department of History in 1969.[1]

LaCapra's work has helped to transform intellectual history and its relations to cultural history as well as other approaches to the past. His goal has been to explore and expand the nature and limits of theoretically informed historical understanding.[2] His work integrates recent developments in critical theory, such as post-structuralism and psychoanalysis, and examines their relevance for the rethinking of history.[3] It also explores and elaborates the use in historical studies of techniques developed in literary studies and aesthetics, including close reading, rhetorical analysis, and the problem of the interaction between texts or artifacts and their contexts of production and reception.[4] In addition to its role in the field of history, LaCapra's work has been widely discussed in other humanities and social science disciplines, notably with respect to trauma theory and Holocaust studies.[5]

At Cornell, where he is now professor emeritus, LaCapra has held joint appointments in the departments of History and Comparative Literature. He served for two years as Acting Director and for ten years as Director of the Cornell Society for the Humanities. He is a senior fellow of the School of Criticism and Theory;[6] of which he was associate director from 1996–2000 and director from 2000-2008.[7]

LaCapra is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2006–present).[8]



Edited books




  1. "Dominick LaCapra". Cornell University Department of History. Retrieved 24 February 2012.
  2. Gordon, Peter (2011) Review of History and Its Limits: Human, Animal, Violence, Journal of Modern History 83 (no. 1), pp. 139-40.
  3. See Goldberg, Amos (2000) Interview, The Multimedia CD 'Eclipse Of Humanity', Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, available on-line at
  4. See, for example, Berkhofer, Jr., Robert (1995) Beyond the Great Story: History as Text and Discourse (Harvard University Press); Clark, Elizabeth A. (2004) History, Theory, Text: Historians and the Linguistic Turn (Harvard University Press), esp. chaps. 6 and 7; Dosse, François (2003) La marche des idées: Histoire des intellectuals — histoire intellectuelle (Editions Découverte,); Jay, Martin (1988) Fin-de-Siècle Socialism and Other Essays (Routledge), pp. 47-61; Kramer, Lloyd S. (1989) "Literature, Criticism, and Historical Imagination: The Literary Challenge of Hayden White and Dominick LaCapra", in Hunt, Lynn ed., The New Cultural History (University of California Press); Novick, Peter (1988) That Noble Dream: The "Objectivity" Question and the American Historical Profession (Cambridge University Press); and Toews, John (1987) "Intellectual History after the Linguistic Turn: The Autonomy of Meaning and the Irreducibility of Experience," American Historical Review (92), 879-90.
  5. See, for example, Eisenstein, Paul (2003) Traumatic Encounters: Holocaust Representation and the Hegelian Subject (State University Press of New York); Hutcheon, Linda (1988) A Poetics of Postmodernism: History, Theory, Fiction. (Routledge); Kaplan, E. Ann, Trauma Culture: The Politics of Terror and Loss in Media and Literature (Rutgers University Press, 2005); Oliver, Kelly (2001) Witnessing Beyond Recognition (University of Minnesota Press); Rothberg, Michael (2000) Traumatic Realism: The Demands of Holocaust Representation (University of Minnesota Press); and Weissman, Gary (2004) Fantasies of Witnessing: Postwar Efforts to Experience the Holocaust (Cornell University Press).
  6. Monroe, Jonathan (2002). Writing and revising the disciplines. Cornell UP. p. 194. ISBN 978-0-8014-8751-4. Retrieved 8 February 2012.
  7. See
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