German Historical Institute London

17 Bloomsbury Square
London WC1A 2NJ
United Kingdom

Phone: +44 (0)20 - 7309 2050
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Seminars and Lectures

The GHIL regularly holds seminars and lectures on topics of general interest to British and German historians. Seminars are held Tuesdays at 5.30pm during term time. Seminar papers are normally presented in English; knowledge of the German language is not necessary for participation.

Seminars - Autumn 2015

6 October

Martin Mulsow (Erfurt/Gotha)
Drugs and Oriental Studies in the Seventeenth Century: Towards an Intellectual History beyond East and West

In the early 1670s Martin Fogel, a physician and linguist from Hamburg, inquired into rumours about Maslach, a drug that the Ottoman Turks supposedly gave their soldiers to enhance their fighting abilities. The lecture will trace the entangled history of the Maslach debate from Fogel’s perspective and the Ottoman side. It will demonstrate how an intellectual history focusing on scholarly practices can contribute to a transcultural history of this era.

Martin Mulsow is Professor of Intellectual History at the University of Erfurt and Director of the Gotha Research Centre for Early Modern Studies. His main areas of research are Renaissance philosophy, the history of early modern scholarship, clandestine literature, and radical Enlightenment. His most recent book is Prekäres Wissen: Eine andere Ideengeschichte der Frühen Neuzeit (2012).

20 October

Elizabeth Harvey (Nottingham)
Gender, Race, and the Wartime Workforce: The Nazi Labour Administration and Female Forced Labour from Occupied Eastern Europe

This lecture will explore why such a substantial proportion of the civilian forced labourers recruited from occupied Poland and the occupied Soviet territories for work in wartime Nazi Germany was female. It will consider factors influencing the demand for and supply of female foreign labour and explore the recruitment policies and practices of the Reich labour administration.

Elizabeth Harvey is Professor of History at the University of Nottingham. She specializes in the history of twentieth-century Germany and Europe with a focus on gender history and the Second World War period. She is the author of Women and the Nazi East: Agents and Witnesses of Germanization (2003); and Youth and the Welfare State in Weimar Germany (1993).

27 October

Lawrence Goldman (London)
Founding the Welfare State: The Collective Biography of William Beveridge, R. H. Tawney, and William Temple

This lecture will examine the close personal relations between three of the most prominent British social reformers of the twentieth century. Tawney and Temple were at school together; all three overlapped as students in the same Oxford college; Tawney married Beveridge’s sister; they remained friends and colleagues for the rest of their lives. What do these personal relationships tell us about social politics in Britain between 1900 and 1950? Can the welfare state be reduced to three interlocking biographies?

Lawrence Goldman is Director of the Institute of Historical Research, London. He was formerly Fellow and Tutor in History at St Peter's College, Oxford and also editor of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography for ten years from its publication in 2004. His biography of R. H. Tawney was published in 2012.

24 November

Joanna Bourke (London)
‘Going Ballistic’: A New History of Aggression

Aggression is an essentially contested concept. What is meant by ‘aggression’ has changed dramatically over the past two centuries. What ideological, political, and economic forces have produced practices that are categorized as ‘aggressive’ at any period of time and for any particular group? The lecture will explore what these systems of classification and regulation can tell historians about gender and power in late nineteenth- and twentieth-century culture.

Joanna Bourke is Professor of History at Birkbeck College. She is the prize-winning author of eleven books, including histories of modern warfare, military medicine, psychology and psychiatry, the emotions, and rape. In 2014 she was the author of The Story of Pain: From Prayer to Painkillers and Wounding the World: How Military Violence and War- Play are Invading our Lives.

Seminars are held at 5.30 p.m. in the Seminar Room of the German Historical Institute.
Tea is served from 5.00 p.m. in the Common Room, and wine is available after the seminars.

Guided tours of the Library are available before each seminar at 4.30 p.m.

Download the list of Seminars Autumn 2015 (PDF file)

Previous Seminars

Public Lectures

3 September

Dan Diner (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
'Rites of Reserve: The German-Israeli Encounter in Luxemburg 1952'

Keynote Lecture to the German History Scociety Annual Conference 2015

The lecture presents, using historical-anthropological 'thick description', the diplomatic scene in Luxemburg on 10 September 1952 at the point when the treaty on restitution was signed between Germany and Israel. It interprets this short scene as an originating act of German-Jewish rapprochement after 1945. At the same time, this public act crystallized a collective transformation of Jews after the Holocaust, involving the exorcising of everything that was German.

Dan Diner is Professor of Modern History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he is Principal Investigator of the ERC-Advanced Grant Project Judging Histories – Experience, Representation, and Judgment of World War II in an Age of Globalization. From 1999 to 2014 he served as well as Director of the Simon Dubnow Institute for Jewish History and Culture at Leipzig University. He has published numerous books on the history of the twentieth century, the Middle East and German History, especially the history of National Socialism and the Holocaust, as well as Jewish History. Among his numerous publications are Beyond the Conceivable. Studies on Germany, Nazism and the Holocaust (University of California Press, 2000) and Cataclysms. A History of the Twentieth Century from Europe’s Edge (The University of Wisconsin Press, 2008 [1999]). Professor Diner also co-founded and co-edited from 1988-1998 the journal History & Memory: Studies in Representation of the Past. His most recent publication is Rituelle Distanz. Israels deutsche Frage (DVA, 2015).

To register your attendance, please email Craig Griffiths: c.griffiths(ghi)

This lecture is part of the 2015 German History Society Annual Conference. Further details can be found here:

Previous Public Lectures