Kurt Wolff was a member of the Brandeis Sociology faculty from 1959 until his retirement in 1982. Upon retirement, Professor Wolff remained active as emeritus faculty until 1992, during which time he continued to publish and teach undergraduate and graduate level courses in sociology.
Professor Wolff studied under Karl Mannheim at the University of Frankfurt in Germany during the early 1930s. His studies in Germany were interrupted by the Nazis' rise to power, which compelled him to move to Italy. He obtained his Ph.D. in the sociology of knowledge from the University of Florence in 1935. Four years later, anti-Semitic laws forced Professor Wolff to leave Italy. In 1939 he relocated to the United States where he began his lifelong commitment to teaching and research in sociology.
Prior to his appointment at Brandeis, Professor Wolff was an Associate Professor at Ohio State University for fourteen years. He left Ohio State in 1959 to join the Brandeis sociology faculty as professor and department chair. He was instrumental in organizing the doctoral program in sociology which was established at Brandeis in 1961. His areas of expertise include the sociology of knowledge and phenomenological sociology. Professor Wolff taught numerous courses while at Brandeis, including The Sociology of Knowledge, Phenomenology and Sociology, Surrender and Catch: Experience and Inquiry Today, and Themes in Sociological Theory.
During his tenure at Brandeis, Professor Wolff served on the Faculty Senate and was appointed the Manuel Yellen Professor of Social Relations in 1977. He was also elected as President of the International Society for the Sociology of Knowledge in 1972 and President of the American Sociological Association in 1977. He was awarded two Fulbright Senior Lectureships to Italy and Australia in 1963 and 1980, respectively. He lectured at universities throughout the United States and Europe, helping to make Brandeis better known and appreciated by colleagues and students worldwide.
A prolific writer, Professor Wolff authored, edited and translated numerous articles, books and reviews in professional publications. Many of his works were published in French, German and Italian. His publications include Survival and Sociology:Vindicating the Human Subject (1991) (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers), Beyond the Sociology of Knowledge: An Introduction and a Development (1983) (Lanham: MD: University Press of America), Surrender and Catch: Experience and Inquiry Today (1976) (Reidel Press), and O Loma! Constituting a Self 1977-1984 (1989) (Northhampton, MA: Hermes House Press) which includes pencil drawings by Professor Wolff.