John Bodnar

Distinguished Emeritus Professor, Department of History

Department of History

IU; IU Bloomington

Full Biography

My current research project extends my interest in the representation of violence in American memory and culture.  I am particularly interested in the political and cultural struggle between heroic and traumatic experiences that follow episodes of  state sponsored violence. In my 2010 book, The "Good War" in American Memory, I probed this contest in public and personal remembrances of World War II from the 1940s to the end of the twentieth century.  Currently I am looking at America's War on Terror and the attempt to resurrect and impart patriotic modes of thought on encounters with violence such as 9/11 and American wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. I am not so much interested in battles on the ground but ideas in realm of culture that seek to  rework the legacy of suffering and brutality.  I am especially interested in a process I call "moralizing" whereby people find ways to make moral pronouncements or craft patriotic stories that blunt the full force of the horrors that citizens have suffered or inflicted on others.  Moralizing  inevitably sparks a widespread debate--or a vast expression of demoralization contesting noble patriotism--visible  in memoirs, films, commemorations, and political squables that can be followed over  a long period of time.

Honors and Awards

  • Named Distinguished Professor, Indiana University (2013)
  • Distinguished Faculty Award, Indiana University College of Arts and Sciences (2002)
  • Fellowship, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University (2001-2002)
  • Chancellor’s Professorship in Teaching and Research (2000)
  • Teaching Excellence Award, Department of History (1997)
  • Awarded Florence Chair in American History, European University Institute, Florence, Italy. Selected by Fulbright Commission (1994)
  • Guggenheim Fellowship (1983-1984)

Research Interests

  • Modern U.S. history
  • Social and cultural history


  • B.A. at John Carroll University, 1966
  • M.A. at John Carroll University, 1968
  • Ph.D. at the University of Connecticut, 1975



  • Divided by Terror: American Patriotism since 9/11. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2021.
  • The "Good War" in American Memory. Baltimore, MD:  Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010.
  • Blue-Collar Hollywood: Liberalism, Democracy, and Working People in American Film. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003.
  • Bonds of Affection: Americans Define their Patriotism (Ed. and Contributor) Princeton Univ. Press, 1996
  • Remaking America: Public Memory, Commemoration, and Patriotism in the Twentieth Century. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992.
  • The Transplanted: A History of Immigrants in Urban America. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985.
  • Worker's World: Kinship, Community, and Protest in an Industrial Society. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982.
  • Lives of their Own: Poles, Blacks and Italians in Pittsburgh, 1900-1950. University of Illinois Press, 1982 - co-author.
  • Immigration and Industrialization: Ethnicity in an American Mill Town.   Pittsburgh: Univ. of Pittsburgh Press, 1977.