George Rousseau

Professor George Sebastian Rousseau (born February 23, 1941)[1] is an American cultural historian resident in the United Kingdom.

George Rousseau
George Rousseau lecturing in Oxford 2014.jpg
George Sebastian Rousseau

1941 (age 78–79)
NationalityAmerican, British
Alma materAmherst College (AB)
Princeton University (PhD)
OccupationEmeritus Professor
OrganizationUniversity of Aberdeen University of Oxford
Known forCultural and intellectual history and literature Theories of interdisciplinarity Literature and Medicine
Partner(s)John Francis Sturley (landscape gardener)

Early life and educationEdit

George Rousseau was educated at Amherst College and Princeton University, where he obtained his doctorate.

Academic careerEdit

From 1966 to 1968 George Rousseau was a member of the English Faculty at Harvard University before moving to a professorship at UCLA, and later to the Regius Chair of English at Aberdeen University in Aberdeen, Scotland.[2] He is a frequent contributor to newspapers and magazines.[3] Since then he has been attached to the History Faculty at Oxford University in Oxford, England, where he was the Co-Director of the Centre for the History of Childhood from 2003 until his retirement in 2013. The endowed George Rousseau Lecture, delivered each year by a distinguished cultural or intellectual historian, is given annually in Magdalen College Oxford University.[4][5]

Rousseau is a cultural historian[6] who works in the interface of literature and medicine, and emphasizes the relevance of imaginative materials - literature, especially diaries and biography, art and architecture, music - for the public understanding of medicine, past and present.[7] Rousseau is an ongoing member of the Core Team of the Norwegian Research Group in Literature and Science funded by the Norwegian Research Council.[8] This project, funded by a SAMKUL award at the Norwegian Research Council for the period 2016-2021, applies Rousseau's theories of interdisciplinarity to concepts of late style, societies in late development, late Western Capitalism and notions of lateness at large.[9] It endorses the historical and contextual methodologies Rousseau has advocated for decades in the study of literature and other disciplines. It also encourages an interdisciplinary approach to philosophical configurations of human ageing and the newly invigorated concept of the fourth stage of old age, feeding into contemporary ideas of what a good old age should entail.[10] Rousseau is also an executive member of the Edinburgh History of Distributed Cognition project team, sponsored by the Edinburgh Centre for Epistemology, Mind and Normativity and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council of the United Kingdom.[11] The Edinburgh project brings together scholars in the humanities and sciences, especially literature and philosophy, medicine and the neurosciences, and is producing a multi-volume history of distributed cognition from the Greeks to the present time.[12] Rousseau's contribution lies primarily in the historical era of the Enlightenment, and follows on from his decades' long commitment to interdisciplinary scholarship covering literature and the sciences, and literature and medicine especially as formulated in the current Medical Humanities.[13] In 2010 - 2012 Rousseau was the presenter of the Wellcome Collection Event Series in London called 'Tell It To Your Doctor'.[14]


He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (FRHistS). He was awarded an honorary doctorate honoris causa on 24 May 2007 by the University of Bucharest, Romania.[15]


  • This Long Disease My Life: Alexander Pope and the Sciences (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1968, with Marjorie Hope Nicolson)
  • English Poetic Satire (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1969, with Neil Rudenstine) paperback ISBN 0-03-079125-1
  • The Augustan Milieu: Essays Presented to Louis A. Landa (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970, with Eric Rothstein)
  • Tobias Smollett: Bicentennial Essays Presented to Lewis M. Knapp (New York: Oxford University Press, 1971, with P. G. Boucé)
  • Organic Form: The Life of an Idea (London: Routledge, 1972) ISBN 0-7100-7246-5
  • Oliver Goldsmith: The Critical Heritage (London: Routledge, 1974; rev. ed. 195) paperback ISBN 0-415-13437-4
  • The Ferment of Knowledge: Studies in the Historiography of Science (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980, with Roy Porter) paperback ISBN 978-0-521-08718-6
  • The Letters and Private Papers of Sir John Hill (New York: AMS Press, 1981) ISBN 0-404-61472-8
  • Tobias Smollett: Essays of Two Decades (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1982) ISBN 0-567-09330-1
  • Science and the Imagination: The Berkeley Conference - Metastudies of the Humanities and Social Sciences (New York: Annals of Scholarship, 1986) paperback ISSN 0192-2858
  • Sexual Underworlds of the Enlightenment (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1987, with Roy Porter) paper ISBN 0-7190-2440-4
  • The Enduring Legacy: Alexander Pope Tercentenary Essays (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988, with Pat Rogers)
  • Exoticism in the Enlightenment (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1990, with Roy Porter)
  • The Languages of Psyche: Mind and Body in Enlightenment Thought (Berkeley, Los Angeles and Oxford: University of California Press, 1991) paper ISBN 0-520-07119-0
  • Perilous Enlightenment: Pre- and Post-Modern Discourses--Sexual, Historical (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1991) ISBN 0-7190-3301-2
  • Enlightenment Crossings: Pre- and Post-Modern Discourses-- Anthropological (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1991) ISBN 0-7190-3072-2
  • Enlightenment Borders: Pre- and Post-Modern Discourses--Medical, Scientific (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1991) ISBN 0-7190-3506-6
  • Medicine and the Muses (Florence, Italy: La Nuova Italia Editrice, Scandicci, 1993, translated into Italian by A. La Vergata) paperback ISBN 88-221-1232-6
  • Hysteria Before Freud (Berkeley, Los Angeles and Oxford: University of California Press, 1993, with Elaine Showalter, Sander Gilman, Roy Porter, and Helen King)
  • Gout: The Patrician Malady (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1998, with Roy Porter) paperback ISBN 0-300-08274-6
  • Framing and Imagining Disease in Cultural History (Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003, with M. Gill, D. Haycock, and M. Herwig) ISBN 1-4039-1292-0
  • Marguerite Yourcenar: A Biography (London: Haus, 2004, translated into Portuguese and Romanian) ISBN 1-904341-28-4
  • Nervous Acts: Essays on Literature Culture and Sensibility (Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan 2004) paperback ISBN 1-4039-3454-1
  • Children and Sexuality: The Greeks to the Great War (London and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007) ISBN 0-230-52526-1
  • The Sciences of Homosexuality in Early Modern Europe (London and New York: Routledge, 2008, with Kenneth Borris) paperback ISBN 978-0-415-40321-4
  • The Notorious Sir John Hill: The Man Destroyed by Ambition in the Era of Celebrity (Bethlehem: Lehigh University Press, 2012) ISBN 978-1-61146-120-6
  • The Georgia Edition of the Works of Tobias Smollett: The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle (Athens and London, GA: The University of Georgia Press, 2014) ISBN 978-0-8203-4525-3
  • Rachmaninoff's Cape: a nostalgia memoir (London and New York: Virtuoso Books 2015, paperback 2015, translated into Russian and published by TEXT Publishers, Moscow, 2020, ISBN 978-5-751-61571-0) ISBN 978-0-9931377-0-9[16][16]</ref>
  • Fame and Fortune: Sir John Hill and London Life in the 1750s (London and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017, with Clare Brant) ISBN 978-1-137-58053-5
  • History of Distributed Cognition in Enlightenment and Romantic Culture (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2019, with Miranda Anderson and Michael Wheeler) ISBN 978-1-474-44228-2


  1. ^ "George Rousseau Cultural Historian - Life - Growing up in New York".
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2017-10-24. Retrieved 2014-03-18.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ [2]
  5. ^ [3]
  6. ^ Raymond Stephanson, 'G. S. Rousseau as Cultural Historian', University of Toronto Quarterly 62(3) (1993): 388-400; Simon Richter, 'On the Threshold: G. S. Rousseau and the Discourses of Then and Now', The Eighteenth Century Theory and Interpretation 34 (Spring 1993): 85-95; for Rousseau's work on the human nervous system and its cultural manifestations over time see [4]; Neil Vickers, 'Literary History and the History of Neurology', History of Psychiatry 22 (December 2011): 498: 'George Rousseau's work on the transmission of neurological ideas into the literary culture of the eighteenth century ... remains the essential reference-point in English studies for all attempts to map the cultural elaboration of medical thought. In the early 1970s, Rousseau put forward the novel thesis - now universally accepted - that the cult of sensibility that was so crucial for the rise of the novel in the eighteenth century was predicated on a series of neurological experiments carried out by the Oxford physician Thomas Willis in the late seventeenth century. One of the most impressive aspects of Rousseau's work was the sheer scale of his engagement with countervailing evidence: there is no better scholar of the history of scepticism about eighteenth-century doctrines of sensibility than George Rousseau.'
  7. ^ [5] and [6]
  8. ^ [7] and [8] and [9] and [10]
  9. ^ "Network project September 2015 – July 2017".
  10. ^ For the award grant and its methodologies see
  11. ^ [11] and [12]
  12. ^ "Major research award announced".
  13. ^ [13] and [14]
  14. ^ [15]
  15. ^ "Doctor Honoris Causa of the University of Bucharest | 150 YEARS".
  16. ^ The TLS reviewer of this book, Slavic scholar Caryl Emerson, explained it as a new type of life-writing memoir whose blended genre of biography and memoir rivalled its contents about Rachmaninoff's music and its particular version of Russian nostalgia.

External linksEdit