Jennifer Michael Hecht

On this date in 1965, poet and historian Jennifer Michael Hecht was born in New York City. She earned a B.A. in history from Adelphi University in New York in 1987 and a Ph.D. in the history of science and European cultural history in 1995 from Columbia University. Her works include The Next Ancient World (2001), for which she was awarded the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award.

Hecht is known primarily for her historical and philosophical books: Doubt: A History (2003); The End of the Soul: Scientific Modernity, Atheism, and Anthropology in France (2003), The Happiness Myth: Why What We Think Is Right Is Wrong (2007) and Stay: A History of Suicide and the Arguments Against It (2013).

Hecht has written for The New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Philadelphia Inquirer, Politico, Vox, Poetry and The New Yorker. She holds a Ph.D. in the history of science/European cultural history from Columbia University (1995) and has taught in the MFA program at Columbia University and the New School in New York City. She and her husband, John Chaneski, have two children.

“I’m sort of what I’ll now call a Reagan atheist — came in real early. I was still a pretty young person,” Hecht said during her speech at FFRF’s 32nd annual convention. In her book Doubt: A History (2003), Hecht detailed the extensive history of atheism and religious skepticism, writing, “Doubters have been remarkably productive, for the obvious reason that they have a tendency toward investigation and, also, are often drawn to invest their own days with meaning.” Hecht is a member of FFRF’s Honorary Board and received its 2009 Freethought Heroine Award.

Freedom From Religion Foundation