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Enzo Traverso

Enzo Traverso, the Susan and Barton Winokur Professor in the Humanities.

Historian Enzo Traverso named first Winokur Professor

Enzo Traverso, professor of political science at the University of Picardie Jules Verne in Amiens, France, has been named the Susan and Barton Winokur Professor in the Humanities; his appointment is in the Department of Romance Studies.

The newly endowed chair, partly supported by an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation challenge grant, was created for a senior scholar who works in more than one humanistic discipline.

"The Winokurs' generous gift enabled us to secure the Mellon Foundation's support and make this strategic appointment at a critical time for the college," said G. Peter Lepage, the former Harold Tanner Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "With about 40 percent of our humanities faculty retiring over the next decade, it's crucial that we hire senior professors like Enzo Traverso who can provide leadership in essential areas of teaching and scholarship." Searches are underway for two additional donor-funded professorships, also partly supported by the Mellon grant.

Enzo Traverso book cover

Enzo Traverso book cover. See larger image

Barton Winokur '61 is a member of the Cornell Board of Trustees and chairs the Arts and Sciences Advisory Council. He is a corporate partner of Dechert LLP, an international law firm he joined in 1965 and for which he served as chair and CEO for 15 years before stepping down in 2011. Susan Sternblitz Winokur '61 has owned, operated and been the principal teacher of the Class Cooking culinary school in Bryn Mawr, Pa., for the last 25 years; all net proceeds from classes are donated to charity.

"We believe deeply in the importance of the humanities," said Barton Winokur, "and we're delighted that we were able to help bring a scholar of Professor Traverso's stature and multidisciplinary interests to Cornell."

Enzo Traverso book cover

Enzo Traverso book cover. See larger image

Timothy Campbell, professor of Italian and chair of Romance studies, noted that Traverso is "one of the most important intellectual historians working today. His studies of Nazism and Italian fascism are already considered seminal works, and his groundbreaking study of the relation between progressive thought and anti-Semitism is as breathtaking as it is disturbing."

Traverso said he considered it an "enormous honor" to be named to the professorship. His partner, Magali Molinié, will teach cultural anthropology and French cultural studies as an adjunct associate professor in the Department of Romance Studies.

Having always worked in what he calls "a very European framework," dividing his time between France, Spain, Italy and Germany, Traverso will reinforce Cornell's links to Europe (he has also taught in Latin America). He received his Ph.D. from France's School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences in 1989. He was a guest lecturer for Cornell's Romance studies department in 2003 and was the Luigi Einaudi Chair in International and European Studies in the history department in 2011.

Traverso's most recent books are "Where Are the Intellectuals?," a book of conversations on intellectual history from the end of the 19th century to today; and "The End of Jewish Modernity," an analysis of the role Jews played in European culture and thought between the middle of the 18th and 20th centuries, and how political changes after World War II affected that role.

Images have an important place in Traverso's work, so he's looking forward to possible collaborations with art and visual historians at Cornell. "Cornell's comparative literature departments are much more open to cultural studies and interdisciplinary approaches than those in Europe," he noted. "Here I can do a lot of things I couldn't do in a French university. That's very exciting."

Linda B. Glaser is a staff writer for the College of Arts and Sciences.

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