Born in Germany to Swiss parents and raised in the American Midwest, Helen Pfeifer is a historian of the early modern Middle East. She received her doctorate from Princeton University, where she specialized in Ottoman and Mediterranean history. Her dissertation 鈥淭o Gather Together: Cultural Encounters in Sixteenth-Century Ottoman Literary Salons鈥 examines the social and intellectual consequences of the Ottoman incorporation of Arab lands in 1516-7. However, Pfeifer鈥檚 interest in cultural exchange extends beyond the Ottoman Empire; she has written about the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century European engagement with Ottoman goods and practices as well.

Helen's teaching at Cambridge reflects her broad interests, encompassing early modern Ottoman, European and world history. In 2024 she was awarded one of the university's twelve Pilkington Prizes for outstanding teaching at the University of Cambridge. See the on the Cambridge History Faculty website.