Susanne Schmidt
Department of History and Philosophy of Science, Cambridge University
English | Deutsch

Susanne Schmidt is a PhD candidate in the Cambridge Department of History and Philosophy of Science, where she studies the history of the "midlife crisis." She is a fellow of the German National Academic Foundation (Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Visiting Predoctoral Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (summer 2016) and Visiting Fellow at the Department of the History of Science, Harvard University (2015-16). Previously junior research fellow (wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin) at the Department of History, Humboldt University Berlin. Undergraduate and graduate studies in History and German studies in Berlin, Cambridge, Paris.

The midlife crisis, gender, and social science in the United States, 1970-2000

My doctoral project historicizes the "midlife crisis," which became popular in the United States and, indeed, internationally in the 1970s. I show that the midlife crisis constituted a key tool for negotiating changing gender roles within politically very various packages. It gained traction initially as a feminist idea before it was appropriated by psychologists and defined as a male-centered concept. I tell the story of the changing uses of "midlife crisis" through the lens of history of science and intellectual history as well as gender, media and social histories.

Research interests

History of social science, social policy, social criticism
History of gender and work
Intellectual history and the uses of ideas
History of communication, mass media, publishing


"The Feminist Origins of the Midlife Crisis," Historical Journal 61 (2018), vol. 1.

Forthcoming "The Anti-feminist Reconstruction of the Midlife Crisis: Popular Psychology, Journalism, and Social Science in 1970s America," Gender & History 30 (2018), vol. 2.

Essay review of Rethinking Therapeutic Culture, edited by Timothy Aubry und Trysh Travis, and Groovy Science: Knowledge, Innovation, and American Counterculture, edited by David Kaiser and W. Patrick McKay, Isis 108 (2017), vol. 4.

Review of Breaking Up Time: Negotiating the Borders between Present, Past and Future, edited by Chris Lorenz, and Berber Bevernage, Traverse 2016, vol. 3.

Review of American Pulp: How Paperbacks Brought Modernism to Main Street, by Paula Rabinowitz, H-Soz-u-Kult, December 2016.

Review of The Prime of Life: A History of Modern Adulthood, by Steven Mintz, H-Soz-u-Kult, January 2016.

Translation of "La situation du culte des images," by Pierre Antoine Fabre, Annali dell'Istituto storico italo-germanico in Trento 39 (2014), vol. 2.


Susanne Schmidt
University of Cambridge
Department of History and Philosophy of Science
Cambridge, CB2 3RH

sas92 at