About Paul Lerner

I teach in the History Department at The University of Southern California, primarily courses on German and European history, with specializations on fascism, the history of medicine, consumer culture, and Jewish history. I have been at USC since 1997, after spending 18 months as a postdoc at the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine in London and after graduate school in history at Columbia. My current book project is called "Exiles on Main Street: Central European Émigrés, American Capitalism, and Cold War Consumer Culture, 1940-1970," and is about the American household/housewife as a site of intervention for émigré experts (architects, psychologists, advertising professionals, psychiatrists, etc.) who fled Nazi controlled Europe for the safe shores of the US where they encountered a booming economy and a robust consumer sphere. Previous books and articles concern the history of the "Jewish department store" in pre-Nazi Germany (The Consuming Temple), shell shock and the history of German psychiatry (Hysterical Men), and German Jewish masculinity (Jewish Masculinities). I've recently written about the German TV hit Babylon Berlin, Lion Feuchtwanger as Jewish writer, etc.

Paul Lerner is Professor of History at the University of Southern California where he directs the Max Kade Institute for Austrian-German-Swiss Studies. He can be reached at plerner@usc.edu and @PFLerner.

NBN Episodes hosted by Paul:

Kerry Wallach, "Traces of a Jewish Artist: The Lost Life and Work of Rahel Szalit" (Penn State UP, 2024)

April 16, 2024

Traces of a Jewish Artist

Kerry Wallach
Hosted by Paul Lerner

Graphic artist, illustrator, painter, and cartoonist Rahel Szalit (1888-1942) was among the best-known Jewish women artists in Weimar Berlin. But afte…

Till Van Rahden, "Multiplicity: Jewish History and the Ambivalences of Universalism" (Hamburger Edition, 2022)

February 24, 2024


Till Van Rahden
Hosted by Paul Lerner

Since the Enlightenment, the question has arisen as to how it is possible to think of the “unity of the human race” as a multiplicity. How can the pro…

Robin Judd, "Between Two Worlds: Jewish War Brides After the Holocaust" (UNC Press, 2023)

February 2, 2024

Between Two Worlds

Robin Judd
Hosted by Paul Lerner

Facing the harrowing task of rebuilding a life in the wake of the Holocaust, many Jewish survivors, community and religious leaders, and Allied soldie…

Guy Miron, "Space and Time Under Persecution: The German-Jewish Experience in the Third Reich" (U Chicago Press, 2023)

December 6, 2023

Space and Time Under Persecution

Guy Miron
Hosted by Paul Lerner

The rapid and radical transformations of the Nazi Era challenged the ways German Jews experienced space and time, two of the most fundamental characte…

Andreas Killen, "Nervous Systems: Brain Science in the Early Cold War" (Harper, 2023)

August 6, 2023

Nervous Systems

Andreas Killen
Hosted by Paul Lerner

In this eye-opening chronicle of scientific research on the brain in the early Cold War era, the acclaimed historian Andreas Killen traces the compl…

Jennifer L. Allen, "Sustainable Utopias: The Art and Politics of Hope in Germany" (Harvard UP, 2022)

September 14, 2022

Sustainable Utopias

Jennifer L. Allen
Hosted by Paul Lerner

By most accounts, the twentieth century was not kind to utopian thought. The violence of two world wars, Cold War anxieties, and a widespread sense of…

Paul Dobryden, "The Hygienic Apparatus: Weimar Cinema and Environmental Disorder" (Northwestern UP, 2022)

July 1, 2022

The Hygienic Apparatus

Paul Dobryden
Hosted by Paul Lerner

The Hygienic Apparatus: Weimar Cinema and Environmental Disorder (Northwestern UP, 2022) traces how the environmental effects of industrialization rev…

Lauren K. Stokes, "Fear of the Family: Guest Workers and Family Migration in the Federal Republic of Germany" (Oxford UP, 2022)

June 29, 2022

Fear of the Family

Lauren K. Stokes
Hosted by Paul Lerner

Beginning in 1955, West Germany recruited millions of people as guest workers from Yugoslavia, Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal, and especially Turkey. …

Samuel J. Spinner, "Jewish Primitivism" (Stanford UP, 2021)

January 26, 2022

Jewish Primitivism

Samuel J. Spinner
Hosted by Paul Lerner

Around the beginning of the twentieth century, Jewish writers and artists across Europe began depicting fellow Jews as savages or "primitive" tribesme…