Carl E. Schorske (SHS 1932)

Cultural Historian

Carl E. Schorske’s lecture, “A Life of Learning” begins, “My first encounter with the world of learning . . took place when I entered kindergarten in Scarsdale, New York.
To break the ice . . .my teacher asked her pupils to volunteer a song. I gladly offered a German one, called ‘Morgenrot.’ It was a rather gloomy number. . . about a soldier fatalistically contemplating his death in battle at dawn.” Shaken, the teacher took Schorske to meet the principal, who promptly promoted him to first grade.

Fortunately, the remainder of his Scarsdale career didn’t follow the same pace or pattern. He had a number of teachers who fed his intellectual interests, particularly Dorothy Connors, a young woman who had recently graduated from Barnard College.
At Columbia University, Schorske enrolled in its two-year humanities Colloquium.

After graduating, he applied to graduate school at Harvard where William Langer became his mentor. In 1941, only a few weeks before Pearl Harbor, Schorske went to work for the Office of Strategic Planning (OSS) and remained there for six years.

The professoriat beckoned. Schorske entered a fulfilling period in his life which included fourteen years teaching at Wesleyan University, then more graduate work in political science at Berkeley, and finally Princeton where his interests shifted from history to humanities as a whole. Schorske explained, “I worked to bring the arts into history as essential constituents of its processes.

Among his published works are Thinking with History: Explorations in the Passage to Modernism, American Academic Culture in Transformation, and Fin- de- Siecle Vienna, which won the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1981.