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Susan Wise Bauer

Writer and historian, with expertise in:

  • the role that religion plays in the unfolding of historical events, particularly American history;
  • the possibility of real world history, a global narrative that draws east, west, and south together;
  • and the equipping of non-academics (intelligent laypeople) with the vocabulary, foundational knowledge, and skills in argumentation needed to interact with the academic community.

Editor-in-chief and co-owner of Peace Hill Press, a small press that publishes history and literature resources for parents and teachers who are educating students in the classical tradition.

Member of the faculty, College of William and Mary, 1994-2012


  • Ph.D. in American Studies, College of William and Mary in Virginia, 2007
    Concentrations in American history and the history of religion
  • M.A. in English Language and Literature, College of William & Mary, 1996
    Concentrations in 17th century literature and translation theory
  • M.Div., Westminster Theological Seminary, 1991
    Concentration in Ancient Near Eastern Language and Literature

Current Topics of Interest:

History and politics

  • The role that public confession plays in restoring fallen politicians and religious leaders
  • The uses of religious rhetoric in secular American politics
  • The struggles of women in the contemporary world of American conservative religion
  • The possibility of doing world history: telling a narrative that makes sense and encompasses the entire world


  • Neo-classical education: recovering the standards and skills of classical education for modern schooling
  • Teaching world history, not “history by country,” both on the college and secondary school level
  • The responsibility (and rights) of parents to take on the role of teaching children at home when their school options have failed
  • Self-education for adults through reading the classics in literature, history, and politics
  • Learning and teaching the basics of good writing and persuasive argumentation

Ongoing Projects

A multi-volume narrative history of the world for W. W. Norton; first three volumes completed (publications dates March 2007, February 2010, September 2013), currently writing fourth volume.

Pre-rhetoric grammar curriculum covering all major topics in one volume.


  • The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had, revised and updated edition, W. W. Norton, 2015.
  • The Story of Western Science: From the Writings of Aristotle to the Big Bang Theory. W. W. Norton, 2015. (Previously published as The Story of Science; title change in July 2015.)
  • The History of the Renaissance World: From the Rediscovery of Aristotle to the Conquest of Constantinople. W. W. Norton, 2013.
  • The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade. W. W. Norton, 2010.
  • The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home, third edition. W. W. Norton, 2009 (previous editions 1999, 2004)
    An educational best-seller for the past ten years
  • The Art of the Public Grovel: Sexual Sin and Public Confession in America. Princeton University Press, 2008.
    Honorable Mention, 2008 PROSE Award for Professional and Scholarly Excellence in Media and Cultural Studies, Association of American Publishers
  • The Complete Writer. Writing with Ease: Strong Fundamentals. Peace Hill Press, 2008.
    A core text and four workbooks covering writing skills for grades 1-4
  • The History of the Ancient World: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome. W. W. Norton, 2007
    An Outstanding Academic Title for 2007 from CHOICE Reviews, American Library Association
  • The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child. Peace Hill Press, 2004-2009
    A four volume narrative history for grades 1-6, along with accompanying curricular materials; over 100,000 copies of the core texts have already been sold.

Representative College Courses Taught

British Literature Survey I and British Literature Survey II
American Literature: Themes and Issues
American Literature, 1865-1920
Literature and the Bible
Introduction to Creative Writing
Advanced Expository Writing
Creative Writing: Fiction
Advanced Workshop in Fiction Writing

Representative Public Lectures

Teaching Writing for Grades 1-8
A Plan for Teaching Writing, Grades K-12
Neo-Classical Education: A Pattern for Modern Educators
The Role of Public Confession in American Politics
A Walk through Ancient History: A One-Day Seminar
Educating Yourself in the Classical Tradition : A One-Day Seminar

Lectures have been presented at the Smithsonian, the National Montessori Convention, the Royal Society of the Arts (London), the Midwest Educators Convention, the Florida Parent-Educator Association, and elsewhere.

Representative Workshops Given at Educational Conferences

An Introduction to Classical Education
Teaching Students to Work Independently
A Plan for Teaching Writing
What is Literary Analysis? When, Why, and How Should I Teach It?
How to Read a Book (With Apologies to Adler)
Preparing for College Admissions
A Hands-On Seminar: Basic Literary Criticism
A Hands-On Seminar: Constructing an Argument
Educating Ourselves: How to Teach Ourselves

Workshops have been presented at many state education conventions; among them, the conventions sponsored by the Utah Home Educators Association, the Home Educators Association of Virginia, the Washington Homeschool Association, the Home Education Association of California, the Long Island/New York Home Schooling Convention, the Arizona for Home Schooling Families Convention, the Southeastern Homeschool Expo, and others.

Selected Recent Interviews

Critics Say

The Art of the Public Grovel:

Susan Wise Bauer….offers a canny analysis of American political symbolism. Laura Miller in

The Art of the Public Grovel ought to be kept in stock at Trovers, the bookshop on Capitol Hill, from now on. Scott McLemee in Inside Higher Education

Bauer is a skilled analyst of political rhetoric. She is also a terrific writer. Stephen Webb in Christianity Today.

Elegant in its simplicity and surprisingly persuasive. Susan Bordo in The Chronicle of Higher Education Review.

“[A]n engaging, sophisticated and wholly persuasive account of how some public figures get away with transgressions and some do not. And the thread linking all of them is the practice of religion. [Bauer’s] accompanying texts of successful and failed confessions complete an elegant study, also useful for any aspiring public figure.” Jurek Martin, Financial Times

“[T]his exhaustively researched book offers a fascinating trip through more than a century of America’s top sex scandals.” Karen Holt, Barnes & Noble Review

I intend to keep my copy on the shelf beside my hardbound edition of The Confidence Man.” Peter W. Wood, American Conservative

The History of the Ancient World:

Bauer’s elegant prose and her command of much of the material makes this a wonerful starting point for the study of the ancient world. Publishers Weekly.

Sets a new standard for accessible history surveys…provides an ideal structural framework for understanding pieces of the past as part of a broad pageant of history rather than as isolated episodes. World History Bulletin, XXIV.1

This succinctly formatted yet very informative and easily digested historical reference covers the rise and fall of all major ancient civilizations in Europe, Egypt the Middle East, India and China with just the right amount of detail for those of us who are not pursuing PhDs in ancient history. It is basically two college classes in one easy-to-read book. United States Naval Academy Recommended Title

Bauer employs a narrative method that infuses the sometimes scholarly tone of multi-volume histories with literature, mythology, and personal ephemera for an engrossing tale of human behavior throughout the ancient world. The Strand Bookstore Review.

“She writes briskly and interpretively … Bauer’s survey will spark the imagination.” Booklist

The Well-Educated Mind:

If she’s not careful, Susan Wise Bauer will wind up a guru on PBS. Bauer is a real rebel; she does not mistake the last century of cranky half-truths from Frankfurt garrets and Sorbonne cafes for 2,500 years of philosophical aesthetics. All her genres include not only Dead White Males but also authors far beyond that usual cast of suspects. In contrast to both extremes of the culture wars, she proves you can speak two truths at once. In the best sense, Bauer is a neoclassicist. America Magazine, 9/24/2003

Bauer has crafted a timeless, intelligent books. Publishers Weekly

Carry around a new book like The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had, by Susan Wise Bauer, and friends will leaf through it earnestly, dreaming of a day when they’ll finally be conversant with Sophocles and Rene Descartes. The New York Times, Sept. 7, 2003

Bauer provides a clear guide to educating oneself in the liberal arts through disciplined, critical reading of literary classics. Library Journal

The Story of the World

Provides a thorough overview of world history…Bauer packs the short, manageable chapters with information–but not so much as to overwhelm young readers….She focuses on story-telling, thereby laying a solid foundation for the budding historian. World Magazine, Issue 24.18

The title really says it all – this is a delightful book of stories. Ms. Bauer’s writing style is engaging and easy to read, and she includes details that are intrinsically interesting to children. Some stories are fables from around the world and some are fictional stories that illustrate life in that time in history. The details of real battles, kingdoms, cultures, and customs weave together a story worth telling over and over. The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

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