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Caroline Winterer

Headshot of Caroline Winterer

Caroline Winterer

Chair, Department of History
William Robertson Coe Professor of History and American Studie
United States
Ph.D., University of Michigan
M.A., University of Michigan
B.A., cum laude, Pomona College

Caroline Winterer is an American historian specializing in the era before 1900, especially the history of ideas, political theory, and the history of science. She was Director of the Stanford Humanities Center from 2013 to 2019.

Her most recent book is Time in Maps: From the Age of Discovery to Our Digital Era(University of Chicago Press, 2020), edited with her Stanford colleague Karen Wigen. Maps organize us in space, but they also organize us in time. Looking around the world for the last 500 years, the book argues that today's digital maps are only the latest efforts to insert a sense of time into the spatial medium of maps.

She is also the author of four other books, including most recently American Enlightenments: Pursuing Happiness in the Age of Reason (Yale, 2016). In it, she shows how early Americans grappled with the promises of the Enlightenment--how they used new questions about the plants, animals, rocks, politics, religions, and peoples of the New World to imagine a new relationship between the present and the past, and to spur far-flung conversations about a better future for all of humanity.

For mapping the social network of Benjamin Franklin she received an American Ingenuity Award from the Smithsonian Institution; an article about the project appeared in Smithsonian Magazine(Dec. 2013). She has received fellowships from the Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Humanities Center, the Stanford Humanities Center, and the Spencer Foundation, among others. She has published peer-reviewed articles in the American Historical Review, Journal of American History, William and Mary Quarterly, American Quarterly, Journal of the Early Republic, Eighteenth-Century Studies, and Modern Intellectual History. Winterer has also curated two exhibits of rare books and artifacts: Ancient Rome & America at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia (2010) and also The American Enlightenment at the Stanford Library (2011). 

She is accepting graduate students interested in working on the history of ideas in America through roughly the nineteenth century. More information on Stanford's graduate program in American history, designed to answer many commonly asked questions, can be found here.

Selected Publications & Projects

Caroline Winterer
The accepted myth of the “American Enlightenment” suggests that the rejection of monarchy and establishment of a new republic in the United States in...
Paula Findlen, Caroline Winterer, Giovanna Ceserani
Dan Edelstein
Before email, faculty meetings, international colloquia, and professional associations, the world of scholarship relied on its own networks: networks...
Caroline Winterer
“Thus in the beginning all the World was America,” wrote the English philosopher John Locke at the end of the seventeenth century. Like many European...


Selected Journals & Book Chapters

Caroline Winterer
“Where is America in the Republic of Letters?” Modern Intellectual History 9, 3 (Nov. 2012): 597-623.

More Information


Time in Maps: From the Age of Discovery to Our Digital Era, eds. Karen Wigen and Caroline Winterer (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2020).

American Enlightenments: Pursuing Happiness in the Age of Reason (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016; pb. 2018).

The American Enlightenment: Treasures from the Stanford University Libraries (Stanford: Stanford University Library). Catalogue of an exhibition at Green Library, Stanford University, February-July 2011.

The Mirror of Antiquity: American Women and the Classical Tradition, 1750-1800 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2007; pb. 2009).

The Culture of Classicism: Ancient Greece and Rome in American Intellectual Life, 1780-1910 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002; pb. 2004).