Lisa Szefel, PhD

Associate Professor; History Department Chair
UC Box 
Marsh Hall 335 (Forest Grove)
Areas I Teach 

Academic Positions

2012-Present | Associate Professor of History, Pacific University

2007-2012 | Assistant Professor of History, Pacific University

2003-2007 | Lecturer, History and Literature Department, Harvard University


PhD, History | University of Rochester, Rochester, NY

MA, History | University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA

BA, History | Mount Holyoke College (Highest Honors), South Hadley, MA

Areas of Research & Specialization

I am an intellectual historian whose work analyzes cultural politics and political culture in modern America and the transatlantic world. My current book project "THINK or Die": A Prize to Ezra Pound, Fascism, and the Fate of Democracy traces ideas about economics, nationalism, and fairness that gave rise to right-wing groups in America and Italy from the 1920s until today.

Published Works

"Ezra Pound's Psychiatric Salon," Reviews in American History (September 2019).

"From 'Tall Ideas Dancing' to Trump's Twitter Ranting: Reckoning the Intellectual History of Conservatism" in "American Labyrinth: Intellectual History for Complicated Times." Eds. Raymond Haberski and Andrew Hartman (Cornell University Press, 2018).

"Critical Thinking as Cold War Weapon: Anxiety, Terror, and the Fate of Democracy in Cold War America," Journal of American Culture (March 2017).

"Woody Allen and Wealth," Montreal Review. July 2013.

Book Review of Michelle Nickerson, "Mothers of Conservatism: Women and the Postwar Right" (Princeton) in Women in Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000, Vol. 17, No. 2. October 2013.

"The Gospel of Beauty in the Progressive Era: Reforming American Verse and Values," Palgrave Macmillan, April 2011.

"Review of Daniel T. Rodgers, Age of Fracture." History News Network. February 2011.

"Welcome Back, 1970s." History News Network. December 2008.

"Beauty and William Braithwaite." Callaloo: A Journal of African Diaspora (Selected as "Notable Essay of 2006" Best American Essays 2007.Ed. David Foster Wallace). Spring 2006.

"Encouraging Verse: William S. Braithwaite and the Poetics of Race." New England Quarterly (Reprinted in Harlem Renaissance, Vol. 1: A Gale Critical Companion. March 2011.


The First Culture War: A Prize to Ezra Pound, Treason, and the Fight for Democracy, American Rothermere Institute, Oxford University, June 2019

Subject of a Roundtable Discussion of my work "Ezra Pound and the Bollingen Prize Controversy: Literary Modernism, National Security, and American Culture in the Cold War," Great Lakes History Conference, Grand Valley State University, 2018

"'Think or Die': Postwar Intellectuals Confront the Abyss," Organization of American Historians Conference, New Orleans, April 2017

"Dangerous Ideas: The 2016 Election Edition," The Athenaeum, Indianapolis, IN, 21 July 2016

"The Intellectual History of Conservatism and the Debate Over Ideas in America," Workshop on New Frontiers/New Currents at Indiana University/Purdue University Arts and Humanities Institute and American Studies Program, July 20-21, 2016 

Panelist, "Conservative Thinkers of the 20th Century," symposium at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2016 

"Cold War Cultural Politics: Public Intellectuals and the Bollingen Prize Controversy of 1949," Conference on Public Intellectuals, Harvard University, 2014

Moderator, Plenary Session on "Conservatism and Intellectual History: Pasts and Futures," Society for U.S. Intellectual History Conference, UC-Irvine, November 2013

"Tall Ideas Dancing: Compassion, Capitalism, and the Aesthetics of Conservatism," Organization of American Historians Conference, April 2012

"Intolerance of the Intellectuals: Peter Viereck’s Shame and Glory," Conference on Public Intellectuals, Harvard University, April 2012

Panel Member, Roundtable: Daniel Rodgers, Age of Fracture, U.S. Intellectual History Conference, Center for the Humanities, CUNY Graduate Center, November 2011

"The Postwar Literary Turn in American Politics," U.S. Intellectual History Conference, CUNY Graduate Center, November 2011

"Reconstructing Reason: Values, Virtues, and the Moral Imagination in Postwar America," The Enlightenment between Europe and the United States: Twentieth-Century Tensions, Center for Advanced Studies, Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich, Germany, May 2011

"Peter Viereck's Mid-Century 'New Conservatism': Uncautiously, Daring, Free-Thinking Lovers of Beauty," U.S. Intellectual History Conference, Center for the Humanities, City University of New York, October 2010

"Reading Ezra Pound in the Cold War: The Bollingen Prize Controversy of 1949," Ezra Pound International Conference, Rome, Italy, July 2009

"The Conservative Road Not Taken: The Politics and Poetry of Peter Viereck," Columbia University, March 2009

"Gender and the Presidential Election,"Center for Gender Equity, Pacific University, Forest Grove, OR, October 2008

Moderator, Humanities Institute Conference,"The Other Side of Reason: The History of Madness Today," SUNY Buffalo, October 2008

"Theodore Roosevelt and the Modern Bard," Popular Culture/American Culture Annual Conference, San Francisco, CA, March 2008

"Cultural Conservative: Peter Viereck and European History" Mount Holyoke College, S. Hadley, MA, November 2006

"New Critics, New York Intellectuals, and the Cultural Cold War," History and Literature Department Seminar, Harvard University, December 2006

"Poetry in the Progressive Era," American Literary History Conference, Boston, MA, March 2005

"The Politics of Culture, 1900-1950," American Academy of Arts & Sciences, Cambridge, MA, April 2005

Honor & Awards

2011 | Junior Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching and Scholarship

2009 | Wye Faculty Seminar, The Aspen Institute

2008 | Durot Fellowship, Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin

2008 & 2012 | Junior Faculty Development Award, Pacific University

2006 | NEH Summer Institute/W.E.B. Du Bois Institute, Harvard University

2004-05 | American Academy of Arts & Sciences: Visiting Scholar

2002 | Dexter Perkins Prize in Intellectual and Cultural History, University of Rochester

2002 | Curtis Peck Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching, University of Rochester

1998 | Seven Society Graduate Fellowship for Superb Teaching, University of Virginia

1995-1996 | Friedrich Ebert Stifung Research Fellowship (SDP), Berlin, Germany

1995 | German Historical Institute/German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) Fellowship, Germany

Classes Offered


  • Race in Modern America
  • U.S.  History since 1865
  • American Popular Culture
  • Human Rights and Social Movements
  • Leaders and Leadership
  • Sports in America


  • Get Rich! Wealth in American History
  • The Reagan Era
  • The 1990s: Origins of the Current Crisis
  • Civil Rights Movements
  • Cold War America, 1945-1965
  • Mentoring in the Humanities
  • History of Conservatism
  • Crime, Corruption, and Scandal
  • The Great Depression
  • World War II

First Year Seminars     

  • Success: History, and How-To
  • Minds, Markets, and Morals
  • Ethics, Character, and Culture
  • Animals and Justice
  • Wild Kingdoms: Animals, Stories, and Selves
  • Culture, Character, and Class
  • The Art of Memoir