Skip to main content


Thomas W. Dodman

Assistant Professor, French, Columbia University

Director, History and Literature Program, Columbia University

Governing Board Member, SOF/Heyman, Columbia University (2022–Present)

Headshot of Thomas W. Dodman

Thomas W. Dodman is a historian of modern France and its empire, with broad training in European, cultural and intellectual history, and ancillary interests in psychoanalysis, anthropology, political economy, and social theory. His research typically grapples with forms and experiences of social change in the modern era. He focuses on instances of war, revolution, and colonialism, and approaches these through the study of emotions, memory, and medicine in particular.

His first book, What Nostalgia Was: War, Empire, and the Time of a Deadly Emotion (Chicago, 2018) explores how people once died of nostalgia to tell a larger story about social transformation and alienation in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. A work of archival research, the book develops a theory of practice as a way of grounding the history of changing concepts and emotions in the capitalist epoch. A French translation is forthcoming.

Dr. Dodman has also recently co-edited two volumes: a global history of war, featuring 55 specialists and offering a sweeping thematic panorama of armed conflicts since the nineteenth century (Une Histoire de la Guerre, du XIXe siècle à nos jours, Editions du Seuil, 2018); and an issue of Sensibilités on the study of emotions in neuroscience and the social sciences (Controverses sur l’émotion, Anamosa, 2018).

In a new project, Dr. Dodman is researching the correspondence and extraordinary “family romance” of a French revolutionary-era citizen-soldier who was raised to be Rousseau’s Emile. With this book, he navigates the porous boundaries between history and literature, and explores the ways in which we can connect personal stories to wider global histories. Other forthcoming publications include surveys of the sciences of memory in the nineteenth century and of theories and methods in the history of emotions, as well as a reassessment of Tocqueville’s interest in political economy and capitalist social transformation.

Dr. Dodman co-edits the French journal Sensibilités: histoire, critique & sciences sociales, and serves on the editorial board of Critical Historical Studies. Previously, Dr. Dodman served as associate editor at Emotion Review. In 2016-17, he was a member of the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, where he co-founded the collective project IAS History Working Group. Dr. Dodman has also held fellowships from the Library of Congress, the Huntington and Newberry libraries, as well as the Marie Curie program, among others.

Dr. Dodman is affiliated with ICLS and co-organizes the affect studies university seminar.