George Rousseau
Born1941 (age 79–80)
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)

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

Early life and education

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

Academic career

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]

Rousseau is a cultural historian[5] 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.[6] Rousseau is an ongoing member of the Core Team of the Norwegian Research Group in Literature and Science funded by the Norwegian Research Council.[7] 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.[8] 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.[9] 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.[10] 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.[11] 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.[12] In 2010 - 2012 Rousseau was the presenter of the Wellcome Collection Event Series in London called 'Tell It To Your Doctor'.[13]


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.[14]



  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. ^ 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 [3]; 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.'
  6. ^ [4] and [5]
  7. ^ [6] and [7] and [8] and [9]
  8. ^ "Network project September 2015 – July 2017".
  9. ^ For the award grant and its methodologies see
  10. ^ [10] and [11]
  11. ^ "Major research award announced".
  12. ^ [12] and [13]
  13. ^ [14]
  14. ^ "Doctor Honoris Causa of the University of Bucharest | 150 YEARS".
  15. ^ 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.