Top of page
Skip to main content
Main content

Walter L. AdamsonSamuel Candler Dobbs Professor Emeritus

Walter L. Adamson, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor Emeritus of Intellectual History (B.A. Swarthmore College, 1968; M.A., University of California, Berkeley, 1969; Ph.D. Brandeis University, 1976); modern European intellectual and cultural history; modern Italian history. Author of Embattled Avant-gardes: Modernism's Resistance to Commodity Culture in Europe (2007), which uses a collective-biographical approach to study the intellectual reaction to the coming of commodity culture in Italy, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Great Britain; Avant-garde Florence: From Modernism to Fascism (1993), awarded the Howard Marraro Prize by the American Historical Association; Marx and the Disillusionment of Marxism (1985); and Hegemony and Revolution: Antonio Gramsci's Political and Cultural Theory (1980), awarded the Howard Marraro Prize by the Society for Italian Historical Studies.

I am interested in the imaginings, constructions, and assessments of modernity by European intellectuals, and in their efforts to translate such images and ideas into cultural and political ideologies that seek to reshape it. I am also concerned with long-term processes of cultural change that culminate in and, in part, define modernity. Two of these are secularization and commodification. In the latter regard, I focus particularly on areas of life traditionally resistant to commodification such as art, religion, and selfhood. Most of my recent work has explored these interests in relation to Italian cultural and political movements such as Marinetti's futurism (a site for exploring commodity culture) and Italian fascism (a site for exploring secular religion as well as some broader issues of secularization). This work has appeared in journals such as Contemporary European History; Politics, Religion, and Ideology; New Literary History; and the Journal of Modern Italian Studies.


  • BA, Swarthmore College, 1968.
  • MA, University of California, Berkeley, 1969.
  • PhD, Brandeis University, 1976.


  • Modern European intellectual and cultural history