Ruth N. Halls Professor
Dror Wahrman is the Ruth N. Halls Professor, Department of History and Director, Center for Eighteenth-Century Studies at IU Bloomington. He earned his B.Sc. at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1984, M.A. at Tel Aviv University, 1987, and Ph.D. at Princeton University, 1993.
Dr. Wahrman is a cultural historian of Western Europe in the transition from the pre-modern to the modern, focusing especially on Britain. Much of his work tries to understand what the terms in the previous sentence actually mean. What are the meaning and characteristics of modernity? How distant are we from our "pre-modern" or "early-modern" ancestors? Previous work took apart and then put together again some key narratives that the modern west tells about itself—first, the rise of class society and especially the middle class; and second, the emergence of the modern individual or modern self. In both cases Wahrman asked where do these narratives come from and what in fact were the historical developments that stood behind them (which were not at all those they claimed to represent).
Dr. Wahrman's main topics of interest therefore have been the meanings of identity and self—including categories of identity like gender, race and class; and their intersection with social, cultural and political trends. In recent years he have been drawn especially to the eighteenth century, when so many of those trends began. This interest is reflected in his role as the director of the Center for Eighteenth-Century Studies at Indiana University. He is currently completing two books. One is on a mysterious and virtually unknown painter from the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries whose work was (he argues) an ingenious commentary on the media revolution of this period and on the birth of modern politics. The other, which he is writing with Professor Jonathan Sheehan of the University of California-Berkeley, is about what differentiated the eighteenth century from the early modern period, a question that we want to answer through a close look at the changing role of god in the world as the source of order and harmony. In addition I have a separate interest in the history of Palestine and especially Jerusalem since the eighteenth century, and of photography in the Middle East.
Dr. Wahrman's work has been recognized with the North American Conference on British Studies Ben Snow Prize 2005, awarded to The Making of the Modern Self, the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies Louis Gottschalk Prize 2005, awarded to The Making of the Modern Self, the Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowship, American Council of Learned Societies, 2002/3, the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies. Clifford Prize 2001, awarded for "Gender in Translation: How the English Wrote their Juvenal, 1644-1815", Representations 65, Winter 1999.