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Sarah Igo

Andrew Jackson Chair in American History
Professor of Law; Professor of Political Science; Professor of Sociology; Director, American Studies Program

Sarah E. Igo is the Andrew Jackson Professor of American History and Director of the Program in American Studies, as well as the inaugural Faculty Director of E. Bronson Ingram College.  She received her A.B. in Social Studies from Harvard University and her Ph.D. in History from Princeton University.  Professor Igo's primary research interests are in modern American cultural, intellectual, legal and political history, the history of the human sciences, the sociology of knowledge, and the history of the public sphere. 

Igo’s most recent book, The Known Citizen: A History of Privacy in Modern America (Harvard University Press, 2018), traces U.S. debates over privacy beginning with “instantaneous photography” in the late nineteenth century and culminating in our present dilemmas over social media and big data.  Winner of the Jacques Barzun Prize in Cultural History and the Merle Curti Award for Intellectual History, The Known Citizen was also named one of the Washington Post's “notable non-fiction books” of 2018.  

Igo's first book, The Averaged American: Surveys, Citizens, and the Making of a Mass Public (Harvard University Press, 2007), explores the relationship between survey data—opinion polls, sex surveys, consumer research—and modern understandings of self and nation.  An Editor’s Choice selection of the New York Times and one of Slate’s Best Books of 2007, The Averaged American was the winner of the President's Book Award of the Social Science History Association and the Cheiron Book Prize as well as a finalist for the C. Wright Mills Award of the American Sociological Association.  Igo is also a co-author of Bedford/St. Martin’s American history textbook, The American Promise.

Igo has held fellowships from the Institute for Advanced Study, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Whiting Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities.  In 2012-2015, Igo was awarded a New Directions Fellowship from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which she used to pursue training at U.C. Berkeley's Law School and Center for the Study of Law and Society.  Igo has been a Visiting Scholar at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, a visiting fellow at the Whitney Humanities Center at Yale, and a Havens Center Visiting Scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is the recipient of the Early Career Award from the Journal for the History of the Behavioral Sciences and the Forum for the History of the Human Sciences and the 2015 best paper award for “overall excellence and relevance to the practice of privacy law” of the Privacy Law Scholars Conference.  

Professor Igo has been a member of the Social Science Research Council Working Group on the Transformation of Public Research Universities and the National Young Faculty Leaders Forum at Harvard University’s Center for Business and Government.  She also co-directed a several-year project funded by the Teagle Foundation, the National Forum on the Future of Liberal Education.  Professor Igo teaches a wide range of courses in modern U.S. cultural and intellectual history at both the undergraduate and graduate level.  She joined the Vanderbilt history department after seven years at the University of Pennsylvania, where she was Associate Professor of History and the recipient of the Richard S. Dunn Award for Distinguished Teaching.

Courses taught:

HIST 1420 U.S. Post-1945: Cold War to the Present

HIST 3000W The History Workshop

HIST 2750 American Intellectual History Since 1865

HIST 6410 Readings in American History: Civil War to present

HIST 8055 Methods in Legal History

HIST 8110 The History of Modern Social Knowledge

HIST 8750 Topics in American Cultural History

HIST 398 Dissertation Seminar