- Ph.D., Yale University
- B.A., Balliol College, Oxford University
- B.A., Columbia University
Sean Wilentz studies U.S. social and political history. He received his Ph.D. in history from Yale University (1980) after earning bachelor’s degrees from Columbia University (1972) and Balliol College, Oxford University (1974). Chants Democratic (1984), which won several national prizes, including the Albert J. Beveridge Award of the American Historical Association, shows how the working class emerged in New York City and examines the changes in politics and political thought that came with it. It has recently been republished with a new preface in a 20th anniversary edition. In The Kingdom of Matthias (1994), Wilentz and coauthor Paul Johnson tell the story of a bizarre religious cult that sprang up in New York City in the 1830s, exploring in the process the darker corners of the 19th-century religious revival known as the Second Great Awakening. Wilentz is also the coauthor and coeditor of The Key of Liberty (1993) and the editor of several other books, including Major Problems in the Early Republic (1992) and The Rose and the Briar (2004, Greil Marcus co-editor), a collection of historical essays and artistic creations inspired by American ballads. His major work to date, The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln (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, a reconsideration of U.S. politics since the Watergate affair, and Bob Dylan in America, a consideration of Dylan’s place in American cultural history. A contributing editor to The New Republic, and a member of the editorial boards of Dissent and Democracy, Wilentz lectures frequently and has written some three hundred articles, reviews, and op-ed pieces for publications such as The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Review of Books, London Review of Books, The American Scholar, The Nation, Le Monde, and Salon. His writings on music have earned him a Grammy nomination and a Deems Taylor-ASCAP award.