Prof. Benjamin L. Alpers

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Prof. Benjamin L. Alpers
Fulbright-Leipzig Distinguished Chair for American Literature
Room 3508 | Phone: (0341) 973 7343
Office Hours: Tuesday & Thursday, 2 - 3 pm



I’m originally from Berkeley, California, but I attended university and graduate school in the U.S. Northeast. My MA and PhD are from Princeton University in U.S. History. My PhD dissertation was on American responses to the modern European dictatorships and the development of the idea of totalitarianism as a way of explaining both far left and far right regimes.



My teaching interests revolve around U.S. intellectual and cultural history. I have particular teaching interests in film history and in public memory. While at Leipzig I will be teaching courses in American social thought, World War II in U.S. history and memory, film noir, and cinema in U.S. cultural history.



My research focuses on 20th-century U.S. intellectual and cultural history. I’m particularly interested in questions of political culture, broadly understood. I’m currently at work on a book about Leo Strauss and the Straussians in American academic and political life. Among my shorter current projects is a paper on antifascism, melodrama and three films by Frank Borzage that are set in interwar Germany.


Selected Publications

Dictators, Democracy, and American Public Culture: Envisioning the Totalitarian Enemy, 1920s-1950s (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 2003)

This Is The Army: Imagining a Democratic Military in World War II,” Journal of American History, Vol. 85, No. 1, June 1998, 129-63. [Reprinted in Gordon Martel (ed.), The World War Two Reader (London: Routledge, 2004).]


Honors, Awards and Distinctions

  • American Philosophical Society Sabbatical Fellowship, 2004-2005
  • Woodrow Wilson Fellow, Princeton Society of Fellows, 1991-1993
  • Dwight Eisenhower/Clifford Roberts Graduate Fellow, 1991-2002
  • Mellon Fellow in the Humanities, 1988-1994
  • Hoopes Thesis Prize, Harvard University, 1986