Martin Puchner, the Byron and Anita Wien Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Harvard University, is a prize-winning author, educator, public speaker, and institution builder in the arts and humanities. His writings, which include a dozen books and anthologies and over seventy articles and essays, range from philosophy and theater to world literature and have been translated into many languages. Through his best-selling Norton Anthology of World Literature and his HarvardX MOOC Masterpieces of World Literature, he has brought four thousand years of literature to audiences across the globe.
His book, The Written World, which tells the story of literature from the invention of writing to the Internet, has been widely reviewed in The New York Times, The Times (London), the Financial Times, The Times Literary Supplement, The Atlantic, The Economist, among others, covered on radio and television, and has been translated into some twenty languages. It appeared on the Wall Street Journal bestseller list and received the Massachusetts Book Award.
His book The Language of Thieves has been praised as an unusual combination of scholarship and memoir, is an adventurous foray into the philosophy of language and a reckoning with Germany's past.
His book Literature for a Changing Planet is based on the inaugural Oxford University Lectures in European History, delivered in November 2019, has been reviewed in the Financial Times, The New York Review of Books and other venues.
His new book, Culture: The Story of Us, tells a global history of culture that raises fundamental questions about how culture works, what good are the arts, and how different cultures should relate to one another.
In hundreds of lectures and workshops from the Arctic Circle to Brazil and from the Middle East to China, he has advocated for the arts and humanities in a changing world.
At Harvard, he has instituted these ideas in a new program in theater, dance and media as well as in the Mellon School of Theater and Performance Research.
Among his prizes is a Guggenheim Fellowship, fellowships at the Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin and the Cullman Center at the New York Public Library, the Berlin Prize given by the American Academy in Berlin, and the 2021 Humboldt Prize. He is a permanent member of the European Academy.