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Peter Richardson

Coordinator, American Studies, San Francisco State University

Peter Richardson coordinates the American Studies and California Studies programs at San Francisco State Univerity. He has written critically acclaimed books about the Grateful Dead, the iconic Bay Area rock band; Ramparts magazine, the legendary San Francisco muckraker; and Carey McWilliams, the prolific Los Angeles author who also edited The Nation magazine from 1955 to 1975.

His work has appeared in the print or online editions of the New York Times, Mother Jones, the Los Angeles Times Book Review, San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Review of Books, Truthdig, The American Conservative, and other outlets. A frequent book reviewer, he received the National Entertainment Journalism Award for Online Criticism in 2013.

After receiving his Ph.D. in English from the UC Berkeley in 1991, Peter became an assistant professor at the University of North Texas, where his research focused on medieval literature. In 1993, he was an NEH Summer Seminar Fellow at Harvard University. The following summer, he was a Fulbright Senior Scholar in Iceland. He received tenure at the University of North Texas in 1997.

Two years later, he returned to the Bay Area to join the Public Policy Institute of California. For five years, he edited policy reports on the state’s governance, economy, and population. During this time, he also taught in the publishing program at UC Berkeley Extension. In 2005, he became the founding editorial director at PoliPoint Press, which published trade books on progressive politics and current affairs. After it closed, he served as the economics editor at the University of California Press.

In 2015, Peter returned to full-time teaching in the School of Humanities and Liberal Studies. He also has taught at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Sonoma State University and the University of California, Berkeley.

Peter has been involved with the Bay Area Book Festival since its inception. He serves on the board of directors as well as the program and finance committees. He also chaired the California Studies Association from 2008 to 2011 and continues to serve on its steering committee.


  • 2006–present
    Lecturer, School of Humanities and Liberal Studies, San Francisco State University