Thomas Bender

Thomas Bender is an intellectual and cultural historian of the United States whose work ranges in time from the earliest European settlements in the western hemisphere to the present; his scholarship is often transnational, comparative or global. His primary thematic interests are intellectuals, the history and culture of modern cities, and the history of universities and academic disciplines, particularly the humanities and the social sciences. He also writes about historical subjects, contemporary urban issues, and issues in higher education in magazines and newspapers. Recently, his work his scholarship and teaching has focused on thinking about the value and the methods of transnational and global approaches to national histories, namely the United States. This work is evident in Rethinking American History in a Glogal Age and in A Nation Among Nations: America’s Place in World History.




Is America Exceptional?
During the Cold War and then again after the notion of American exceptionalism, the belief that (luckily) we have not shared the history of the rest of the world was widely believed and it important affected US policies. The same ideas are now prominent in the presidential campaigns. The question of American exceptionalism has usually been challenged and defended on ideological grounds alone. But it is a historical question that can be better addressed by historical study of the actual relation of the United States to the larger history of the world. Examining the major events of American history in their global context from the age of discovery to the present provides an empirical rather than an ideological answer to the question of American exceptionalism.


  • Nation Among Nations: America’s Place in World History
  • The Education of Historians in the 21st Century
  • The Unfinished City: New York and the Metropolitan Idea
  • Intellect and Public Life: Essays on the Social History of Academic Intellectuals in the United States
  • New York Intellect: A History of Intellectual Life in New York City, from 1750 to the Beginnings of Our Own Time
  • Community and Social Change in America
  • The Making of American Society
  • Toward an Urban Vision