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Robert E. Norton has pursued a career in higher education spanning more than three decades, having taught at private liberal arts colleges and at a major research university. He spent a total of eighteen years serving as Chair of his respective departments and four years as Associate Vice President for Internationalization in the Office of the Provost at the University of Notre Dame.

© Brian McConkey


Although his tenure home is in the Department of German, Norton also holds concurrent appointments in the Departments of History and Philosophy. He teaches courses for students across the university as well as others that are open only to students enrolled in the College of Arts and Letters.

Norton's teaching reflects his wide range of interests and his interdisciplinary approach. He has offered College Seminars on "Decline and Fall," "Love," "Money," "Truth," "War," and most recently "Death." For Philosophy, he has taught courses on "Marx, Nietzsche, Freud," "Existentialism," and "The Death of God."

In the Fall Term of 2019, he co-taught with his colleague Professor John Deak in History a course on "The Great War and Modern Memory."  The highlight of the course was a study tour during the Fall Break that enabled students to visit many sites on the Western Front in Belgium and France, including Ypres, the Somme, and Verdun.


In the summer of 2015 and 2017 Norton conducted an innovative two-week seminar for incoming first-year students to Notre Dame that took place before they came to campus.  The seminar was held at the University's study center in Rome and focused on the Grand Tour both as an historical phenomenon and as a model for experiential learning.  Each day involved a two-hour seminar discussion and an on-site excursion to many of the museums, churches, and archaeological sites in and around Rome, and there was also an overnight excursion to Naples to visit Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Professional Experience

Between 2009 and 2011, Norton served as President of the International Herder Society / Internationale Herder-Gesellschaft.  Norton was the Editor of The German Quarterly from 2012 to 2015.  He is also a member of the Editorial Boards of The Journal of the History of Ideas, the Zeitschrift für Ideengeschichte, and Studi Germanici.  

For two years, from 2014 to 2016, Norton was a member of the Board of Directors of the American Friends of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, and he has participated in several selection committee juries at the invitation of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft / German Research Foundation. 

In the summer of 2018, Norton conducted research in Weimar under the auspices of a Senior Fellowship from the Forschungsbund Marbach Weimar Wolfenbüttel. The following summer, he spent two weeks in Halle thanks to a Senior Fellowship from the Interdisziplinäres Zentrum für die Erforschung der Aufklärung at the Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg.

Norton has given lectures throughout the United States and around the world, in Europe, Asia, South America, and the Middle East.


Norton is the father of three children and lives in Chicago.

In his spare time and during the soaring season, he likes to fly gliders here, here, and here.

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