Louis Menand (; born January 21, 1952) is an American critic, essayist, and professor, best known for his Pulitzer winning book  (2001), an intellectual and cultural history of late 19th and early 20th century America.
The Metaphysical Club
Life and career
Menand was born in
Syracuse, New York, and raised around Boston, Massachusetts. His mother, Catherine (Shults) Menand, was a historian, who wrote a biography of Samuel Adams. His father, Louis Menand III, taught political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His grandfather and great-grandfather owned the Louis Menand House, located in Menands, New York, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. The village of Menands is named after his great-grandfather, a 19th-century horticulturalist.
A graduate of
Pomona College, Menand attended Harvard Law School for one year (1973-1974) before he left to earn M.A. (1975) and Ph.D. (1980) degrees in English from Columbia University.
He thereafter taught at
Princeton University and held staff positions at (contributing editor 1994-2001) and The New York Review of Books (associate editor 1986-1987). He has contributed to The New Republic The New Yorker since 1991 and remains a staff writer. In 1988 he was appointment as Distinguished Professor of English at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and in 1990 he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. He left CUNY to accept a post in the English Department at Harvard University in 2003. He has also taught at Columbia, Queens College, the University of Virginia School of Law. 
He published his first book
Discovering Modernism: T. S. Eliot and His Context, in 1987. His long-anticipated second book, (2001), includes detailed biographical material on The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., William James, Charles Sanders Peirce, and John Dewey, and documents their roles in the development of the philosophy of pragmatism. It received the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for History, the 2002 Francis Parkman Prize, and The Heartland Prize for Non-Fiction. In 2002 Menand published American Studies, a collection of essays on prominent figures in American culture.
He is the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of English at Harvard. In 2018 he was appointed for a 5-year term to the Lee Simpkins Family professorship of Arts and Sciences.
His principal field of academic interest is 19th and 20th century American cultural history. He teaches literary theory and postwar cultural history at both the graduate and undergraduate level. At Harvard he helped co-found a freshmen course with content in literature and philosophy, Humanities 10: An Introductory Humanities Colloquium. He also served as co-chair on the Task Force on General Education at Harvard working on a new general education curriculum.  
In consultation with the
National Endowment for the Humanities, President Barack Obama awarded him the National Humanities Medal in 2015. 
Essays and reporting
Menand, Louis (November 14, 2011). "Getting real". The Critics. A Critic at Large. . The New Yorker 87 (36): 76-83 . Retrieved . Reviews Gaddis, John Lewis. George F. Kennan : an American life. Penguin. -- (July 2, 2012).
"Silence, Exile, Punning: James Joyce's chance encounters", pp. 71-75.
— (March 4, 2013). "How the Deal went down : saving democracy in the Depression". The Critics. Books. . The New Yorker 89 (3): 69-74 . Retrieved . Reviews Katznelson, Ira. Fear itself : the New Deal and the origins of our time. Liveright.
— (July 8-15, 2013). "The color of law : voting rights and the Southern way of life". The Critics. A Critic at Large. The New Yorker. 89 (20): 80-89.
— (September 30, 2013). "Nukes of hazard". The Critics. Books. . The New Yorker 89 (30): 76-80 . Retrieved . Reviews Schlosser, Eric. . Penguin. Command and Control
— (October 21, 2013). "The Norman invasion : the crazy career of Norman Mailer". The Critics. A Critic at Large. The New Yorker. 89 (33): 86-95.
— (March 24, 2014). "The de Man case : does a critic's past explain his criticism?". The Critics. A Critic at Large. . The New Yorker 90 (5): 87-93 . Retrieved .
— (October 20, 2014). "Crooner in rights spat : are copyright laws too strict?". The Critics. A Critic at Large. . The New Yorker 90 (32): 84-89 . Retrieved .
— (March 23, 2015). "A friend of the Devil : inside a famous Cold War deception". The Critics. A Critic at Large. The New Yorker. 91 (5): 84-90. 
— (June 20, 2016). "What it is like to like : art and taste in the age of the Internet". The Critics. Books. The New Yorker. 92 (18): 73-76.
— (October 10, 2016). "He's back : Karl Marx, yesterday and today". The Critics. A Critic at Large. The New Yorker. 92 (32): 90-97. 
— (May 1, 2017). "Op de stez : Norman Podhoretz's classic success story". The Critics. Books. The New Yorker. 93 (11): 63-69.  Louis Menand, "Made in
Vietnam: Edward Lansdale and the war over the war" (review of Max Boot, The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam, Liveright / W.W. Norton & Co., 2018), , 26 February 2018, pp. 63-69. The New Yorker ___ (September 30, 2019). " Merit Badges: Is higher education an engine of social injustice?" The Critics. Books. The New Yorker. (75-80). Reviews Tough, Paul, The Years That Matter Most. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt., Markovitz, Daniel, The Meritocracy Trap. Penguin.
Louis Menand official website : recent articles, biography, books
Harvard University Department of English faculty listing for Menand
Appearances on C-SPAN
Menand's humorous exegesis of on The Cat in the Hat NPR's (link to All Things Considered Windows Media and RealMedia audio)
Louis Menand on writing - (in the ) New Yorker
"Cat People: What Dr. Seuss really taught us" -(in the ) New Yorker
This Week in Media Rogues Article from The New York Observer about Louis Menand's review of "Wild Bill Donovan" in The New Yorker
Letters to a Young Writer, Louis Menand to a letter, (Fall 2010). Narrative Magazine, Sun, Kevin, "Who is Louis Menand?", Harvard Crimson, October 20, 2011.