Gay, Peter (Jack) (b. Peter Froelich)(1923– ) historian; born in Berlin, Germany. Emigrating to the U.S.A. as a youth (and changing his name that in German means "joyous," "gay") he took degrees in political science and history (Ph.D. Columbia University, 1951); later he would take a degree in psychoanalysis (1983). He taught at Columbia (1947–69) before becoming Sterling Professor of History at Yale (1969). He is known for his often controversial reassessments of broad topics such as the Enlightenment, 19th-century middle-class culture, and the art and politics of imperial and Weimar Germany. He presents his findings in books that reach out beyond the academic disciplines and community, such as his two-volume history, The Enlightenment: An Interpretation (1966, 1969) and his two-volume study, The Bourgeois Experience (1984, 1985). He also had a lifelong interest in Sigmund Freud, climaxing in his biography, Freud: A Life for Our Time (1988).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.