Professor Avi LifschitzBack to People

Subjects: History (and Joint Honours)
Department: History
College appointment: Tutorial Fellow
Academic position: Associate Professor of History


I joined Magdalen in 2017 after a decade of teaching European History at UCL (University College London).  Earlier I earned an MA in European History summa cum laude from Tel Aviv University and completed a DPhil here at Oxford (as a student at the History Faculty and Lincoln College).  Before moving to London I was also a Junior Research Fellow at Brasenose College.  Other research fellowships included the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, the Clark Library at UCLA, the Lichtenberg-Kolleg at the University of Göttingen, and the Enlightenment Research Centre (IZEA) at the University of Halle-Wittenberg.


To Magdalen undergraduates I offer papers on early modern European and British History, as well as further undergraduate modules in historiography and intellectual history.  At the History Faculty I teach on the MSt in British and European History and offer research supervision.  I am also one of the convenors of the Enlightenment Workshop, Oxford’s interdisciplinary research seminar on eighteenth-century European culture.


The intellectual and cultural history of Europe in the long eighteenth century (c. 1680-1815) is my main area of research; I am particularly interested in the links between Enlightenment anthropology, theology, and political theory. Other significant aspects of my work include translation and cross-cultural transfer as well as the history of royal academies and exiled intellectuals in the eighteenth century.  I am currently preparing the first modern English edition of a wide range of philosophical works by Frederick II (‘the Great’) of Prussia, while also working on the ’science of man’ in the German Enlightenment.

Selected Publications

  • (Co-edited with Michael Squire), Rethinking Lessing’s Laocoon: Antiquity, Enlightenment, and the ‘Limits’ of Painting and Poetry (Oxford University Press, 2017)
  • ‘Forum: The German Enlightenment’, German History 35.4 (2017)
  • (Ed.), Engaging with Rousseau: Reaction and Interpretation from the Eighteenth Century to the Present (Cambridge University Press, 2016)
  • (Ed.), ‘Rousseau’s Imagined Antiquity’, a special issue of the journal History of Political Thought 37 (2016)
  • ‘Between Friedrich Meinecke and Ernst Cassirer: Isaiah Berlin’s Bifurcated Enlightenment’, in Isaiah Berlin and the Enlightenment, eds. Laurence Brockliss and Ritchie Robertson (Oxford University Press, 2016)
  • Language and Enlightenment: The Berlin Debates of the Eighteenth Century (Oxford University Press, 2012; paperback ed., 2016)
  • ‘The Arbitrariness of the Linguistic Sign: Variations on an Enlightenment Theme’, Journal of the History of Ideas 73.4 (2012), 537-557
  • (Co-edited with Neven Leddy), Epicurus in the Enlightenment, ed. with Neven Leddy (Voltaire Foundation, 2009)