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Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz

Sydenham Clark Parsons Professor Emerita of History and Professor Emerita of American Studies


Helen Horowitz's research and writing range over a number of areas: urban life, cultural philanthropy, women, higher education, biography, sexuality, sexual representation, censorship, intimate life, understandings of health and illness, tourism, and landscape.

Traces of J.B. Jackson: The Man Who Taught Us to See Everyday America (2020) is a biography of the extraordinary writer, creator of Landscape magazine, teacher, lecturer, and key founder of the field of landscape studies. A Taste for Provence (2016) is the story of the reinvention of Provence for American travelers. Wild Unrest (2010) focuses on Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the understanding of mental health and illness in the 19th century, and the writing of “The Yellow Wall-Paper.” The Flash Press (2008), co-authored with Patrician Cohen and Timothy Gilfoyle, inquires into the sporting weeklies of the 1840s. Rereading Sex (2002) explores sexual representations and the campaign to censor them that led to the landmark Comstock Law of 1873, which barred obscene materials, contraceptive information and devices, and abortion advertisements from the U.S. mails. The Power and Passion of M. Carey Thomas (1994) is the biography of the feminist and president of Bryn Mawr College, 1857–1935. Campus Life (1987) looks at the history of undergraduate cultures. Alma Mater (1983) probes the ways in which founders of women's colleges expressed their hopes and fears about women as they offered them the liberal arts. A series of articles on zoological gardens, 1974–89, looks at the relation between conceptions of wild animals and human society and their presentation. Culture and the City (1976) examines the cultural institutions of 19th-century Chicago.

Horowitz was editor of Landscape in Sight: J.B. Jackson’s America (1997) and co-editor of Love Across the Color Line: The Letters of Alice Hanley (1996).  

Her current work is a study of Julia Child's team who helped her create and publish Mastering the Art of French Cooking and then develop the television series The French Chef.

In 2010 she was the Los Angeles Times Distinguished Fellow at the Huntington Library, and in 2000–01 was a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute. She held the Mellon Fellowship at the American Antiquarian Society in 1999–2000. In addition, Horowitz has held two fellowships from the ACLS and the NEH, a grant from the Spencer Foundation and a fellowship from the Smithsonian. She was a fellow at the National Humanities Center under a Rockefeller Foundation grant. Rereading Sex received the Merle Curti Award of the Organization of American Historians and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

Horowitz lives with her spouse, the historian Daniel Horowitz, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. They have two children: Ben, a computer scientist in the Bay Area, and Sarah, a professor of history at Washington and Lee University..

Recent Selected Publications

A Taste for Provence. University of Chicago Press, 2016.

Wild Unrest: Charlotte Perkins Gilman and the Making of the Yellow Wallpaper. Oxford University Press, 2010.

Co-author, The Flash Press, with Patricia Cohen and Timothy J. Gilfoyle. University of Chicago Press, 2008

Rereading Sex: Battles Over Sexual Knowledge and Supression in 19th-Century America. Knopf Doubleday Publishing, 2002



Ph.D., Harvard University
B.A., Wellesley College