Jill Lepore

Harvard University Affiliated Professor

David Woods Kemper '41 Professor of American History, Harvard History Department

2021-2022

Biography

JILL LEPORE is the David Woods Kemper ’41 Professor of American History at Harvard University. She is also a staff writer at The New Yorker, where her essays include histories of the Constitution, the Supreme Court, debt, voting, torture, reproductive rights, the right to privacy, the gun debate, and the right to die. Much of her scholarship explores absences and asymmetries of evidence in the historical record. Her books include Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin (Knopf, 2013), Time magazine's Best Nonfiction Book of the Year, a finalist for the 2013 National Book Award for Nonfiction, and winner of the Mark Lynton Prize; The Mansion of Happiness: A History of Life and Death (Knopf, 2012), a finalist for the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction; The Story of America: Essays on Origins (Princeton, 2012), shortlisted for the PEN Literary Award for the Art of the Essay; The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party's Revolution and the Battle for American History (Princeton, 2010), a Times Book Review Editors’ Choice; New York Burning: Liberty, Slavery and Conspiracy in Eighteenth-Century Manhattan (Knopf, 2005), winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Award for the best nonfiction book on race and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; and The Name of War: King Philip's War and the Origins of American Identity (Knopf, 1998), winner of the Bancroft Prize, the Ralph Waldo Emerson Award, and the Berkshire Prize. Her next book, The Secret History of Wonder Woman, will be published by Knopf in October 2014. During a Guggenheim Fellowship year beginning in 2015, Lepore will be working on a book called Dickens in America, an account of the novelist's 1842 American tour. Lepore's essays and reviews, which have been translated into Spanish, Italian, Latvian, Chinese, and Japanese, have been widely anthologized, including in collections of the best legal writing and the best technology writing. She has presented her research at the Yale Law School, Harvard Law School, Columbia Law School, the University of Colorado Law School, and the University of Chicago Law School. In 2012, she was named Harvard College Professor, in recognition of distinction in undergraduate teaching. In 2014, she was elected to the American Philosophical Society and to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Jill Lepore, Of Course the Constitution Has Nothing to Say About Abortion, New Yorker (May 4, 2022).
Categories:
Constitutional Law
,
Health Care
,
Discrimination & Civil Rights
Sub-Categories:
Constitutional History
,
Gender & Sexuality
,
Genetics & Reproduction
Type: Article
Abstract
There is no mention of the procedure in a four-thousand-word document crafted by fifty-five men in 1787. This seems to be a surprise to Samuel Alito.
Jill Lepore, Why the School Wars Still Rage, New Yorker (Mar. 14, 2022).
Categories:
Family Law
Sub-Categories:
Education Law
Type: Article
Abstract
From evolution to anti-racism, parents and progressives have clashed for a century over who gets to tell our origin stories.
Jill Lepore, The Lessons of "The Lorax", New Yorker (Nov. 28, 2021).
Categories:
Constitutional Law
Sub-Categories:
First Amendment
Type: Article
Abstract
The battle over what we read isn’t about to end anytime soon.
Jill Lepore, How the Week Organizes and Tyrannizes Our Lives, New Yorker (Nov. 15, 2021).
Categories:
Disciplinary Perspectives & Law
Type: Article
Abstract
From work schedules to TV seasons to baseball games, the seven-day cycle has long ordered American society. Will we ever get rid of it?
Jill Lepore, The Elephant Who Could Be a Person, The Atlantic (Nov. 16, 2021).
Categories:
Environmental Law
Sub-Categories:
Animal Law
Type: Other
Abstract
The most important animal-rights case of the 21st century revolves around an unlikely subject.
Jill Lepore, When Black History Is Unearthed, Who Gets to Speak for the Dead?, The New Yorker (Sept. 27, 2021).
Categories:
Discrimination & Civil Rights
,
Disciplinary Perspectives & Law
Sub-Categories:
Race & Ethnicity
Type: Other
Abstract
Efforts to rescue African American burial grounds and remains have exposed deep conflicts over inheritance and representation.
Jill Lepore, Facebook's Broken Vows, New Yorker (Aug. 2, 2021).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Information Privacy & Security
,
Networked Society
Type: Article
Abstract
How the company’s pledge to bring the world together wound up pulling us apart.
Jill Lepore, Burnout: Modern Affliction or Human Condition?, New Yorker (May 17, 2021).
Categories:
Disciplinary Perspectives & Law
Type: Article
Abstract
As a diagnosis, it’s too vague to be helpful—but its rise tells us a lot about the way we work.
Jill Lepore, How do Plague Stories End?, New Yorker.com (Mar. 24, 2021)
Categories:
Disciplinary Perspectives & Law
Type: Article
Abstract
In the literature of contagion, when society is finally free of disease, it’s up to humanity to decide how to begin again.
Jill Lepore, Speed and American Elections, Science (Oct. 16, 2020).
Categories:
Government & Politics
Sub-Categories:
Elections & Voting
Type: Article
Jill Lepore, Scientists Use Big Data to Sway Elections and Predict Riots--Welcome to the 1960s, Nature (Sept. 16, 2020).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Type: Article
Abstract
A cold-war-era corporation targeted voters and presaged many of today’s big-data controversies.
Jill Lepore, A New Americanism: Why a Nation Needs a National Story, Foreign Aff. (Mar./Apr. 2019).
Categories:
Disciplinary Perspectives & Law
Sub-Categories:
Law & Humanities
Type: Other
Jill Lepore, Joe Gould's Teeth (2017).
Categories:
Disciplinary Perspectives & Law
Sub-Categories:
Law & Humanities
Type: Book
Abstract
Joe Gould’s Teeth is a Poe-like tale of detection, madness, and invention. Digging through archives all over the country, Lepore unearthed evidence that “The Oral History of Our Time” did in fact once exist. Relying on letters, scraps, and Gould’s own diaries and notebooks—including volumes of his lost manuscript—Lepore argues that Joe Gould’s real secret had to do with sex and the color line, with modernists’ relationship to the Harlem Renaissance, and, above all, with Gould’s terrifying obsession with the African American sculptor Augusta Savage. In ways that even Gould himself could not have imagined, what Gould wrote down really is a history of our time: unsettling and ferocious.
Jill Lepore, Asymmetry in the Archives, 160 Proc. Am. Phil. Soc'y 178 (2016).
Categories:
Disciplinary Perspectives & Law
Sub-Categories:
Law & Humanities
Type: Article
Jill Lepore, ‘The Civil Wars of Julia Ward Howe,’ by Elaine Showalter, N.Y. Times (Feb. 29, 2016).
Categories:
Disciplinary Perspectives & Law
Sub-Categories:
Law & Humanities
Type: Other
Jill Lepore, The Facts of Life: Sex Ed Around the World, 94 Foreign Aff. 144 (2015)(reviewing Jonathan Zimmerman, Too Hot to Handle: A Global History of Sex Education (2015)).
Categories:
Disciplinary Perspectives & Law
,
Health Care
Sub-Categories:
Genetics & Reproduction
Type: Article

Education History