MacArthur Fellows Program

John E. Toews

Intellectual Historian | Class of March 1984

Intellectual Historian
Seattle, Washington
40 at time of award
Published March 1, 1984

About John's Work

John Toews is a historian of modern Europe interested in the connection between theoretical arguments and the broader historical transformations of social forms and cultural idioms.

His interests are focused in three areas of research: nineteenth-century theories of individual agency and cultural identity, the cultural production of historical consciousness and public memory, and the history and cultural contexts of Freudian theory.  Toews is the author of Hegelianism: The Path Toward Dialectical Humanism 1805-1841 (1981) and Becoming Historical: Cultural Reformation and Public Memory in Early Nineteenth-Century Berlin (2004).  He has also written on contemporary historical theory, the history of psychoanalysis, and historicism in music, law, and literature.


Toews is a professor of history at the University of Washington, where he has also served as director of the Comparative History of Ideas Program since 1982.  His numerous articles have appeared in such journals as the Journal of Modern History and the American Historical Review; and he has contributed chapters to many books, including Foucault and the Writing of History Today (1994), Sigmund Freud: Conflict and Culture (1998), and In Enlightenment, Passion and Modernity: Historical Essays in Honor of Peter Gay (2000).

Toews received a B.A. (1966) from the University of Manitoba, and an A.M. (1968) and Ph.D. (1973) from Harvard University.

Last updated January 1, 2005.

Select News Coverage of John E. Toews
November 2, 2018
“…You Can’t Build Something New with Just Anger... But It Gets You Moving”
Comparative History of Ideas
John E. Toews , 1984 MacArthur Fellow
December 9, 2014
“Cultural Death and Radical Hope”
University of Washington Department of History
John E. Toews , 1984 MacArthur Fellow
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