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Reed College History and Humanities Professor Receives Stanford Fellowship


Benjamin Lazier explores humankind’s relationship to nature at the Stanford Humanities Center.


Lazier photo

PORTLAND, OR (October 19, 2007) – Reed College assistant professor of history and humanities Benjamin Lazier has been awarded a $55,000 fellowship from the Stanford Humanities Center. In residence at Stanford for the 2007-2008 academic year, he is examining the twentieth-century revival of the ancient notion that natural organisms are endowed with will, autonomy, and purpose.

Lazier notes that anxieties about the eclipse of the natural world by the human-made world, of earth by artifact, pressed twentieth-century thinkers to reimagine natural objects as subjects, as agents that act upon human beings. Lazier’s project explores this reaction to modernity in arguments about law, philosophy, politics, and biotechnology.

The Stanford Humanities Center, a research center devoted to the study of human history and culture, awards about 30 fellowships each year to historians, philosophers, anthropologists and other humanities scholars. The fellows form a collaborative intellectual and social community. “Our only obligations are to pursue our individual research projects and to present our findings to one another,” Lazier said. “It's a real honor for me, and I feel incredibly fortunate.”

A scholar of modern European intellectual history, Lazier holds a B.A. from the University of Virginia and a Ph.D. from the University of California Berkeley. He has been a member of the Reed faculty since 2005. His book Redemption Through Sin: Heresy and the European Imagination Between the World Wars is forthcoming from Princeton University Press.