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Department of Federated Department of History

Sher, Richard B.

Contact Info
Title: Distinguished Professor
Office: 323 Cullimore
Phone: 973-596-3377
Dept: Federated History

Profile: Richard B. Sher

Richard Sher is Distinguished Professor of History and NJIT Chair of the Federated History Department. After earning a bachelors degree in philosophy, he pursued an interdisciplinary master’s degree in the history and philosophy of social science at the University of Chicago, where he studied with the sociologist Edward Shils, the historian of anthropology George W. Stocking, Jr., the cultural historian Karl Weintraub, and the French historians Keith Baker and William H. Sewell, Jr. This led to a Ph.D. at Chicago in modern European cultural, social, and intellectual history, including a year of study at the University of Edinburgh with Nicholas Phillipson. Since joining the NJIT faculty in the 1980s, he has published widely on the Enlightenment and on book history, especially in Scotland and the English-speaking Atlantic world (see publications). He has held Guggenheim and NEH Fellowships and has been elected a Corresponding Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. He has presented more than twenty plenary lectures and invited talks in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, and Ireland, at, among other places, Harvard University, Columbia University, UCLA, Trinity College, the Folger Shakespeare Library, the University of Edinburgh, the University of Glasgow, the University of Victoria, and Simon Fraser University. His publications have received a number of distinctions, among them the American Historical Association’s Leo Gershoy Award for “the most outstanding work in English on any aspect of the field of 17th- and 18th-century western European history,” awarded in 2007 to The Enlightenment and the Book. He is the founding Executive Secretary of the Eighteenth-Century Scottish Studies Society, as well as the editor of its annual newsletter, Eighteenth-Century Scotland, and the general editor of its book series, Studies in Eighteenth-Century Scotland, which published its eighth volume in 2010. He has served on several editorial and advisory boards, including those of the Scottish Literary Review, the Adam Smith Review, and the Yale Editions of the Private Papers of James Boswell, for which he is currently editing two volumes of Boswell’s correspondence. His teaching, honored with NJIT’s excellence in graduate teaching award in 1997, focuses on the cultural and social history of communication and technology in European, American, and world history. 



  • NJIT Overseers Excellence Award, 2013
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, 2009
  • Corresponding Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, 2009
  • 2007 Frank Watson Prize (University of Guelph, Ontario) and 2007 Leo Gershoy Award (American Historical Association), for The Enlightenment and the Book.
  • Percy G. Adams Article Prize for 1999, (awarded March 2000), SE/ASECS, for "Corporatism and Consensus in the Late Eighteenth-Century Book Trade" Book History 1 (1998).
  • University Excellence in Teaching Award, Graduate Level, NJIT, 1997.
  • Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, 1994-95.