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Nelson Lichtenstein

Current Courses

Fall 2015 (tentative)

Winter 2016 (tentative)

  • History 294
    Colloquium in Work, Labor, and Political Economy

Spring 2016 (tentative)

  • History 166B
    United States in the Twentieth Century (1930 to 1959)
  • History 294
    Colloquium in Work, Labor, and Political Economy

Department Fields


There are no announcements

Current Graduate Students

U.S. Labor History, 20th Century U.S.

Ph.D., University of California Berkeley, 1974

Office: HSSB 4256
Phone: (805) 893-4822   Fax: (805) 893-8795

Prof. Lichtenstein is the director of the Center for the Study of Work, Labor and Democracy. Current and past conferences include: The American Right and U.S. Labor: Politics, Ideology, and Imagination; The Traveling Box: Containers as the Global Icon of Our Era and Capitalism and Its Culture: Rethinking Mid-20th Century American Thought.

Research and Teaching Interests

  • Political Economy
    How politics, production, and distribution intersect in a global economy
  • Labor History
    Workers and their institutions, both voluntary and governmental, remain central to an understanding of U.S. society
  • Social Thought
    Intellectuals, credentialed and organic, frame the way we see the world, especially when it comes to class, capitalism, race, and gender.

Current Projects

  • Triumphalism and Apocalypse: How Americans Have Thought About Capitalism in The 20th Century
    Since the 1890s not a decade has passed without a radical shift in how writers, both popular and academic, have reconsidered the value, virtues, and future of U.S. capitalism.
  • Merchant Capitalism: From the 19th Century to the 21st.
    This work posits that with the rise of global retailers like Wal-Mart, Target, and Tesco we have now entered a second era of merchant capitalism, not unlike that of antebellum America, characterized by commodity production and cheap, unfree labor.

Selected Publications

Honors and Professional Activities

  • Sol Stetin Award for Labor History 2012
  • Elected Fellow, Society of American Historians 2006
  • Philip Taft Prize for Best Book in Labor History

Work, Labor, and Democracy