Sam Lebovic

Sam Lebovic

Sam Lebovic

Director of the PhD Program

Associate Professor

U.S. History: 20th century culture and politics; U.S. and the world; media history; democracy; civil liberties; political economy; cultural globalization.

Sam Lebovic is a historian of American politics and culture, with particular interests in mass media, democracy, political economy, and the role of the U.S. in the world. He received his BA (First Class Honors) from the University of Sydney in his native Australia and his PhD (with distinction) from the University of Chicago. Before coming to George Mason, he held postdoctoral fellowships at Rutgers University and NYU.

His first book, Free Speech and Unfree News: The Paradox of Press Freedom in America, was published by Harvard University Press in 2016. A comprehensive history of press freedom in theory, law, and practice from the dawn of the twentieth century until the present, the book argues that the First Amendment right to free speech has been insufficient to guarantee a free press. Exploring problems ranging from the rise of state secrecy to the corporate consolidation of the newspaper industry, the book uses the history of press freedom to ask new questions about the role of the press in American democracy, and to better explain the crises that beset today’s press during the “war on whistleblowers” and the ongoing death of the daily newspaper. In 2012, the American Society for Legal History awarded Lebovic the Paul Murphy Prize in the History of Civil Liberties to support his work on this book; in 2017, the Organization of American Historians awarded Free Speech and Unfree News the Ellis W. Hawley Prize for the best book on the history of the political economy, politics, or institutions of the U.S. from the Civil War to the present.

Lebovic has also published scholarly articles on the role of the media in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, on the intellectual history of media criticism, on the history of the Fulbright program, on the politics of pop culture in the 1940s, and on the Beatles and cultural globalization. And he has published essays on history, politics, and the media in Dissent, Politico Magazine, The Columbia Journalism Review, and The Boston Globe.

His current research interests include the transnational history of broadcast media deregulation, the institutional and intellectual history of cultural globalization, the politics and political economy of American internationalism in the 1940s, and the regulation of the speech rights of government employees.

Lebovic currently serves as the Associate Editor of the Journal of Social History.

Selected Publications

Free Speech and Unfree News: The Paradox of Press Freedom in America (Harvard University Press, 2016)

Awarded 2017 Ellis W. Hawley Prize by the Organization of American Historians (for best book on the political economy, politics, or institutions of the U.S. from the Civil War to the present)

Awarded 2012 Paul Murphy Prize in the History of Civil Liberties by the American Society for Legal History (in support of book completion)

“When the ‘Mainstream Media’ was Conservative: Media Criticism in the Age of Reform,” in Media Nation: The Political History of News in Modern America, ed. Bruce J. Schulman and Julian Zelizer (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017)

“Here, There, and Everywhere': The Beatles, America, and Cultural Globalization, 1964-1968,” Journal of American Studies, January 2017

“Limited War in the Age of Total Media” in Understanding the U.S. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, ed. Beth Bailey and Richard Immerman (NYU Press, 2015)

“‘A Breath from Home’: Soldier Entertainment and the Nationalist Politics of Pop Culture During World War II,” Journal of Social History, December 2013

“From War Junk to Educational Exchange: The WWII Origins of the Fulbright Program and the Foundations of American Cultural Globalism, 1945-1950,” Diplomatic History, April 2013

Courses Taught

Graduate: Cultural Globalization, History of the U.S. State, Global Migrations, American Internationalism, U.S. National Security State, American Democracy.

Undergraduate: History of the American Media, The U.S. and World Power, Cold War America, Introduction to World History.