Bruce Mazlish

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Bruce Mazlish (September 15, 1923 – November 27, 2016) was an American historian who was a professor in the Department of History at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.[1] His work focuses on historiography and philosophy of history, history of science and technology, artificial intelligence, history of the social sciences, the two cultures and bridging the humanities and sciences (natural and social), revolution, psychohistory, history of globalization and the history of global citizenship. He has worked to build the latter two into a public intellectual movement, through initiatives such as the New Global History conferences.[2]


Mazlish was hired as an instructor at MIT in 1950. He became full Professor in the MIT History Department in 1965. Aside from a couple of years when he completed his PhD, and then a few years teaching and researching abroad, he remained in active teaching at MIT until fall 2003, when he assumed emeritus status. Some of his course offerings included "Marx, Darwin and Freud," "Modernity, Post-modernity and Capitalism," and "The New Global History."[3]

Mazlish was an editor of, and contributor to, several collected volumes, and the author of over two dozen books (with translations into six different languages), as well as several dozen more articles and reviews in over two dozen peer-reviewed journals (a couple of which he founded) in addition to various periodicals.

Notable among his publications are: The Western Intellectual Tradition (1960; co-authored with Jacob Bronowski, this became a classic used in university courses and translated into many languages), Psychoanalysis and History (1963 edited volume), The Riddle of History: The Great Speculators from Vico to Freud (1966), The Revolutionary Ascetic (1976), A New Science: The Breakdown of Connections and the Birth of Sociology (1989), The Leader, the Led, and the Psyche (1990), Conceptualizing Global History (1991, co-edited with Ralph Buultjens), The Fourth Discontinuity: The Co-Evolution of Humans and Machines (1993), The Uncertain Sciences (1998), The Global History Reader (2005, co-edited with Akira Iriye, based on a course co-taught at Harvard in 2004), The New Global History (2006), and The Idea of Humanity in a Global Era (2009). He also wrote psychohistorical biographies on Richard Nixon (written at the time of the Watergate hearings, and receiving wide popular attention and acclaim), Henry Kissinger, and James and John Stuart Mill.

His articles have appeared in peer-reviewed journals such as History and Theory, American Historical Review, Historically Speaking, and New Global Studies,[4] as well as periodicals for a more general audience, including Book Review Digest, Center Magazine, Encounter, The Nation, The New Republic, New York Magazine, and The Wilson Quarterly. Reviews of his books have appeared in a wide range of publications, including The Christian Science Monitor, Fortune Magazine, The New York Review of Books, and the New York Times.[5]

In 1960, he was a founding associate editor of History and Theory,[6] helping to edit it for ten years. In 1969 he was instrumental in the establishment of the Journal of Interdisciplinary History,[7][8] helping to secure its financial and institutional footing, and serving on its Board of Advisors from its founding until his death.[3]

Mazlish has been substantively involved in the major ongoing activity of the Toynbee Foundation, the New Global History Initiative, which organized several international conferences[9] and since 2007 has published the New Global Studies Journal (a peer-reviewed electronic journal).[10] Mazlish is one of the editors, along with Nayan Chanda (Yale), Akira Iriye (Emeritus, Harvard), Saskia Sassen (Columbia), and Kenneth Weisbrode (Managing Editor).

Mazlish was also one of the founding members of the Wellfleet Psychohistory Group.

In 2004, the journal Historically Speaking, on the occasion of an interview with Mazlish, conducted by its editor, Donald Yerxa, described him as "identified with several seemingly disparate intellectual pursuits", including psychohistory, the history of the social sciences, and the new field of "global history", which he was then helping to shape.[11]

Awards and honors[edit]

Mazlish was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1967. [12][13] The Academy funded a project examining the feasibility of psychohistory; Mazlish was a primary investigator, along with Erik Erikson, Philip Rieff, Robert Lifton, and others.[14][15][16]

In 1972-73 Mazlish was a recipient of a Social Science Research Council Faculty Fellowship and made a Visiting Member of the Institute for Advanced Study.[17]

From 1974 to 1979, Mazlish served as Head of MIT’s Department of Humanities (Course XXI). At the time, there were 11 “sections” representing their disciplines (this amounted to about 140 faculty), an unwieldy administrative structure. When he stepped down, he recommended that each section became an autonomous department; this occurred a few years later.[18]

Mazlish received the Toynbee Prize for 1986-87.[19] Other recipients include George F. Kennan, Ralf Dahrendorf, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., and Albert O. Hirschman. He also served on the Board of Trustees (1992-2007), and as President (1997-2006), of the Toynbee Prize Foundation,[3] which is an affiliated society of the American Historical Association, and sponsors one session at the Association's annual meeting, when the prize is awarded.[20][21]

Mazlish served on the Scholars Council for the Kluge Prize of the Library of Congress,[22] 2000-2003, and on the governing board of the Rockefeller Archive Center, 1999-2005.[23]

Invited lectures have included the Remsen Bird Honorary Lecture at Occidental College, the Presidential Lecture at Brown University, along with innumerable others in the United States and abroad, including in Argentina, India, Great Britain, and Russia."[3]

The MIT History faculty held a symposium, "World into Globe – History for the 21st Century" to celebrate his work and teaching in 2011.[24]

Mazlish's books have received several honors, including the Hudson Book Club Selection, Book Find Club Selection,[3] and Kayden National Book Award (1994-1995, for his 1993 The Fourth Discontinuity.[25]

Early life and family[edit]

Bruce Mazlish was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1923. His father, Louis Mazlish, had immigrated as a teenager from what was then Russia. A largely self-taught engineer and entrepreneur, Louis Mazlish started a laundry service for which he developed much of the equipment. He married Lee Reuben in 1919, and had three children, of whom Bruce was the middle, with an older brother Robert and a younger sister, Elaine.

Bruce Mazlish attended local public primary schools in Brooklyn, and then elected to go to Boys High School, which drew its students on a city-wide basis. Upon graduation he entered Columbia University in 1940.

Having enlisted in the Officer's Reserve Corps, Mazlish was called up in 1943, and underwent basic training in the US infantry. Subsequently he served in the Office of Strategic Services, assigned to the Far East arena, in Morale Operations. When the war ended, Columbia granted him a catch-up BA dated 1944.

Mazlish worked as a journalist at The Washington Daily News (now defunct) for half of a year, spent a year with his wife in Mexico working on a novel, and then worked at a third-rate prep school, teaching English (for which he was qualified) and History (which he learned by reading one chapter ahead of his students). Teaching the latter gave him an original view of the discipline, and the G.I. Bill drove educational expansion and demand for teachers in the post-WWII years.

In this way, Mazlish stumbled onto the path of the academic world, teaching history for two years at the University of Maine, Brunswick campus, and then completing advanced degrees at Columbia University in literature (MA thesis: “Defoe: Criminologist,” 1947) and then a Ph.D in Modern European History, where he worked mainly under Professors Shepherd Clough and Jacques Barzun (thesis on “Burke, Bonald and De Maistre: A Study in Conservative Thought”, 1955)."[3]

Mazlish was married to Neva Goodwin, economist and co-director of the Global Development And Environment Institute at Tufts University, with whom he has published and edited several works. Previously, he was married to Constance Shaw (fellow OSS officer in WWII), and to Anne Austin. He had two children from his first marriage, Cordelia and Peter Shaw, and two from his second, Anthony and Jared. He passed on November 27, 2016 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and was eulogized in the New York Times,[26] by several at the Toynbee Prize Foundation ,[27] by MIT News,[28] and at an MIT Memorial service.[29]


Selected articles[edit]

  • The Conservative Revolution of Edmund Burke, The Review of Politics 20:1 (Jan., 1958), pp. 21–33 [1]
  • History and Morality, The Journal of Philosophy 55:6 (Mar. 13, 1958), pp. 230–240 [2]
  • The Idea of Progress, Daedalus 92:3, Themes in Transition (Summer 1963), pp. 447–461 [3]
  • The Fourth Discontinuity, Technology and Culture 8:1 (Jan., 1967), pp. 1–15 [4]
  • Group Psychology and Problems of Contemporary History, Journal of Contemporary History 3:2, Reappraisals (Apr., 1968), pp. 163–177 [5]
  • The French Revolution in Comparative Perspective, Political Science Quarterly 85:2 (Jun., 1970), pp. 240–258. [6]
  • What is Psychohistory?, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 21, Fifth Series (1971), pp. 79–99. [7]
  • The Tragic Farce of Marx, Hegels, and Engels: A Note, History and Theory 11:3 (1972), pp. 335–337. [8]
  • Following the Sun, The Wilson Quarterly 4:4 (Autumn, 1980), pp. 90–93. [9]
  • Crèvecoeur's New World, The Wilson Quarterly 6:4 (Autumn, 1982), pp. 140–147. [10]
  • The Quality of The Quality of Science: An Evaluation, Science, Technology, & Human Values 7:38 (Winter, 1982), pp. 42–52. [11]
  • The Wealth of Adam Smith (with Neva Goodwin), Harvard Business Review 4:52 (Jul/Aug 1983), pp. 52ff.
  • The American Psyche,[30] in 1990, The Leader, the Led and the Psyche, (Hanover/London: University Press of New England
  • The Question of The Question of Hu, History and Theory 31:2 (May, 1992), pp. 143–152. [12]
  • A Triptych: Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams, Rider Haggard's She, and Bulwer-Lytton's The Coming Race, Comparative studies in society and history 35:4 (Oct. 1993), pp. 726–745. [13]
  • Some Observations on the Psychology of Political Leadership, Political Psychology 15:4 (Dec., 1994), pp. 745–753. [14]
  • Christopher Fox, Roy Porter, and Robert Wokler eds., Inventing Human Science: Eighteenth-Century Domains (review), The American Historical Review 102.2 (1997), pp. 444–445. [15]
  • Psychohistory and the Question of Global Identity, Psychohistory Review' 25 (1997), pp. 165–176. [16]
  • Comparing global history to world history, Journal of interdisciplinary History (1998), pp. 385–395. [17]
  • A Tour of Globalization, Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies 7 (1999), pp. 5. [18]
  • On voluntary servitude: False consciousness and the theory of ideology, Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences 34:2 (Spring 1998), pp. 195–197. [19]
  • Big questions? Big history? History and Theory 38:2 (1999), pp. 232–248. [20]
  • For Charlie and Nick [a review of: Harry Collins and Martin Kusch, The Shape of Actions: What Humans and Machines Can Do], Nature 398:6727 (1999), pp. 478–479. [21]
  • Jürgen Osterhammel, Colonialism: A Theoretical Overview [trans. Shelley L. Frisch] (review), Journal of World History 10.1 (1999), pp. 232–234. [22]
  • The Norton History of the Human Sciences (review)." Journal of Interdisciplinary History 30.2 (1999), pp. 294–296. [23]
  • Before the great binary divide, Nature 404:6777 (2000), pp. 434–435. [24]
  • Ernst Cassirer's Enlightenment: An Exchange with Robert Wokler, Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture 29.1 (2000), pp. 349–359. [25]
  • Invisible Ties From Patronage to Networks, Theory, culture & society 17.2 (2000), pp. 1–19. [26]
  • The Art of Reviewing, Perspectives on History: The News Magazine of the American Historical Society, Feb. 2001. [27]
  • Civilization in a historical and global perspective, International sociology 16.3 (2001), pp. 293–300. [28]
  • Noel Parker Revolutions and History: An Essay in Interpretation (review), The American Historical Review 106:3 (2001), pp. 925–926. [29]
  • Reflections on the human sciences and their history, History of the Human Sciences 14.4 (2001), pp. 140–147. [30]
  • Empiricism and History, Historically Speaking 4.3 (2003), pp. 12–14. [31]
  • The Past and Future of Psychohistory, Annual of Psychoanalysis 31 (2003), pp. 251–262. [32]
  • A Tale of Two Enclosures Self and Society as a Setting for Utopias, Theory, culture & society 20:1 (2003), pp. 43–60. [33]
  • 1897, Historically Speaking 6:6 (2005), pp. 23–23. [34]
  • Big History, Little Critique, Historically Speaking 6:5 (2005), pp. 43–44. [35]
  • The global and the local, Current Sociology 53:1 (2005), pp. 93–111. [36]
  • The Hi-jacking of Global Society? An Essay, Journal of Civil Society 1:1 (2005), pp. 5–17. [37]
  • The Hi-jacking of Global Society? A Rebuttal, Journal of Civil Society 1:2 (2005), pp. 191–193. [38]
  • Roudometof: A dialogue, Current Sociology 53:1 (2005), pp. 137–141. [39]
  • Global history, Theory, Culture & Society 23:2-3 (2006), pp. 406–408. [40]
  • Progress in History, Historically Speaking 7.5 (2006), pp. 18–21. [41]
  • Revisiting Barraclough's Contemporary History, New Global Studies 2:3 (2008) [42]
  • Globalization Nationalized, New Global Studies 3:3 (2009). [43]
  • The Joy of War and the Future of Humanity, New Global Studies 4:3 (2011). [44]
  • Ruptures in history, Historically Speaking 12:3 (2011), pp. 32–33. [45]
  • Social Bonding, Globalization, and Humanity, New Global Studies 5:3 (2011). [46]
  • Crimes and Sovereignty, New Global Studies 6:1 (2012). [47]
  • From the Sentiment of Humanity to the Concept of Humanity, Historically Speaking 13:3 (2012), pp. 30–33. [48]
  • Three Factors of Globalization: Multinational Corporations, Non-Governmental Organizations, and Global Consciousness, Globality Studies Journal (2012). [49]
  • The New Global Merchants of Light, New Global Studies 7:1 (2013), pp. 25–31. [50]
  • The Imprint of the Global, New Global Studies 8:2 (2014), pp. 177–182. [51]


  1. ^ Sleeman, Elizabeth, ed. (2003). International Who's Who of Authors and Writers 2004. Europa Publications. p. 379. ISBN 978-1857431797.
  2. ^ [Perspectives On Global History |Toynbee Prize Foundation (Mission) Archived 2015-03-21 at the Wayback Machine]
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Bruce Mazlish". Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Archived from the original on 2016-12-20. Retrieved 2016-12-05. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  4. ^ An exhaustive list includes as well: Annual of Psychoanalysis, Comparative Studies in Society and History, Daedalus, Globality Studies Journal, History of European Ideas, History of the Human Sciences, The Journal of American History, The Journal of Civil Society, The Journal of Contemporary History, The Journal of Interdisciplinary History, The Journal of Philosophy, The Journal of World History, Nature, Oral History Review, Philosophy and History, Phylon, Political Science Quarterly, The Psychohistory Review, The Review of Politics, Science, Society, Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture, Technology and Culture, Theoria, Theory, Culture & Society, and Transactions of the Royal Historical Society.
  5. ^ Reviews have also appeared in Book Find Club Selection, Contemporary Sociology, Enterprise and Society, Foreign Affairs, Futures, History: Review of New Books, Hudson Book Club Selection, Isis, The Journal of Computing in Higher Education, Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, Journal of Social History, Leonardo, Publishers Weekly, and Social Forces.
  6. ^ "History and Theory (1960) Volume I, Number 1, front matter, inside cover [requires login credentials]". History and Theory. 1 (1). 1960. JSTOR 2504254.
  7. ^ "The Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Editorial Info".
  8. ^ "The Journal of International History (1970) Volume I, Number 1; front matter, inside cover [requires login credentials]". The Journal of Interdisciplinary History. 1 (1): 1. 1970. JSTOR 202406.
  9. ^ "International Conferences on Global History".
  10. ^ "New Global Studies Journal". Archived from the original on 2014-04-28./
  11. ^ "Historically Speaking: The Bulletin of the Historical Society, July/August 2004: Volume V, Number 6".
  12. ^ "Academy of Arts & Sciences Website Search". Archived from the original on 2014-09-01.
  13. ^ "Members of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences: 1780-2012" (PDF).
  14. ^ "The Psychohistorical Process". Archived from the original on 2015-02-03. Retrieved 2014-03-25.
  15. ^ "A Controversial Discipline" by Philip Nobile, The New York Times, October 10th, 1976
  16. ^ "Bruce Mazlish: Pioneer Psychohistorian" interview by Tomasz Pawelec in Clio’s Psyche Vol 3, No 3, December, 1996
  17. ^ [Mazlish, Bruce | Institute for Advanced Study]
  18. ^ "Soundings Fall 2000 (An Interview with Bruce Mazlish)".
  19. ^ "Toynbee Prize Winners - Toynbee Prize Foundation".
  20. ^ "About the Foundation". Toynbee Prize Foundation.
  21. ^ "Toynbee Prize Foundation (Affiliated Societies)".
  22. ^ "Scholars Council - John W. Kluge Center (Library of Congress)".
  23. ^ "Rockefeller Archive Center Newsletter Spring 2004" (PDF).
  24. ^ Khoury, Philip S. (2012-08-28). "Globality Studies Journal (GSJ) World into Globe I: Introductory Remarks". (31).
  25. ^ "The Fourth Discontinuity - Mazlish, Bruce - Yale University Press".
  26. ^ Vitello, Paul (29 November 2016). "Bruce Mazlish, Who Fused Psychoanalysis and History in His Books, Dies at 93". New York Times. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
  27. ^ "Bruce Mazlish: A Tribute". 20 December 2016.
  28. ^ "Professor Emeritus Bruce Mazlish, pioneer in the field of global history, dies at 93: Historian and prolific author served as an MIT professor for more than 50 years". 6 December 2016.
  29. ^ "A memorial service for Bruce Mazlish, Professor of History, Emeritus".
  30. ^ "The American Psyche" (PDF). a global historian's take on matters [].[permanent dead link]

External links[edit]