An alumnus of Stanford University, where he received his BA and PhD degrees in history, Richard Wightman Fox has taught since 1975 at Yale University, Reed College, Boston University, and (since 2000) at the University of Southern California, where he offers an undergraduate research seminar titled “The World of Abraham Lincoln,” among other courses on American cultural and intellectual history.
A recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, Fox is the author of five books: Lincoln’s Body: A Cultural History (W. W. Norton, 2015); Jesus in America: Personal Savior, Cultural Hero, National Obsession (HarperOne, 2004); Trials of Intimacy: Love and Loss in the Beecher-Tilton Scandal (University of Chicago Press, 1999); Reinhold Niebuhr: A Biography (Pantheon, 1985); and So Far Disordered in Mind: Insanity in California, 1870–1930 (University of California Press, 1979, a revision of his 1975 PhD thesis at Stanford University).
He has also coedited four volumes: The Culture of Consumption in America: Critical Essays in American History, 1880–1980 (with Jackson Lears; Pantheon, 1983); The Power of Culture: Critical Essays in American History (with Jackson Lears; Pantheon, 1993); A Companion to American Thought (with James Kloppenberg (Blackwell, 1995); and In Face of the Facts: Moral Inquiry in American Scholarship (with Robert Westbrook; Cambridge University Press, 1998).
In the mid-1950s, in Mr. Kravitz’s class at the Brentwood School in West Los Angeles, Fox joined the rest of the fifth-graders in memorizing, as best they could, the Gettysburg Address. If memory serves, laughter broke out each time a child recited the words, “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here."