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Photo of Philip Gura, taken by Sarah Boyd

William S. Newman Distinguished Professor of American Literature and Culture

A. B., American History and Literature, Harvard College.

Ph. D. History of American Civilization, Harvard University.


I have written widely in American literature and culture, including, for example, two books on nineteenth-century music history; the bicentennial history of the American Antiquarian Society; two books on American Transcendentalism; two in American religious history; a history of the nineteenth-century American novel; and a biography of a Native American. I advise students in all of these areas.

To read more, visit my website


  • A Glimpse of Sion’s Glory: Puritan Radicalism in New England (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1984).
  • America’s Instrument: The Banjo in Nineteenth-Century America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999).
  • Jonathan Edwards: America’s Evangelical (New York: Hill & Wang, 2005).
  • American Transcendentalism: A History (New York: Hill & Wang, 2007).
  • Truth’s Ragged Edge: The Rise of the American Novel (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2013).
  • Man’s Better Angels: Romantic Reformers and the Coming of the Civil War (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2017).

Teaching Awards

  • University Post-Baccalaureate Distinguished Teaching Award, University of North Carolina, 2004.


  • Norman Foerster Prize in American Literature, awarded by the Modern Language Association, 1977.
  • Senior Fellow, National Endowment for the Humanities, Institute of Early American History and  Culture, Williamsburg, VA, 1985-86.
  • Frances Densmore Prize,  awarded by American Musical Instrument Society, 1996.
  • University Teaching Award in Post-Baccalaureate Education, 2003.
  • Distinguished Scholar Award, Division of American Literature to 1800 of the Modern Language Association, 2008.
  • National Book Critics Award in Non-Fiction, finalist, 2008.
  • Andrew W. Mellon Distinguished Scholar in Residence, American Antiquarian Society (2006-07).

Courses Taught:

  • English 219: The American Novel.
  • English 220: Survey of American Literature to 1900.
  • Studies in 19th-Century American Literature (graduate).

Curriculum Vitae / Resume