German Historical Institute London

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London WC1A 2NJ
United Kingdom

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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.

11 November

Making Cinema `Useful’: Pedagogies and Publics in India, c 1920- 1960

GHIL in cooperation with the Transnational Research Group – India

How did colonial and early post-colonial governments and film entrepreneurs use film to circulate information and engage different types of publics? This lecture reviews the variety of pedagogical projects and audience categories which went into making cinema a ‘useful’ vehicle of information. The talk will also explore how ‘useful’ cinema in South Asia was embedded in a transnational network of discussion about how to solicit and shape audiences.

Ravi Vasudevan is Professor at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi. He specializes in film and media history and its interconnectedness with social and political history. His publications include Making Meaning in Indian Cinema (edited, 2000) and The Melodramatic Public: Film Form and Spectatorship in Indian Cinema (2010). He is a founder–editor of the journal, BioScope: South Asian Screen Studies.

2 December

Heroism in Late Medieval Burgundy

The court of the Dukes of Valois is considered one of the pioneers of emerging statehood in Europe. The forms of representation practised at the court, however, were inspired by traditional concepts of chivalric– aristocratic culture, referring to heroic images of the ancient, biblical, and medieval past. The lecture will explore the media and practices of promoting heroism in political communication in Burgundy.

Birgit Studt is Professor of Medieval History at the University of Freiburg. She specializes in the cultural history of residences and courts, aristocracy and urban elites, political communication, and papacy and councils in late medieval history. Her books include Fürstenhof und Geschichte: Legitimation durch Überlieferung (1992); Papst Martin V. (1417–1431) und die Kirchenreform in Deutschland (2004); and Haus- und Familienbücher in der städtischen Gesellschaft des Spätmittelalters und der frühen Neuzeit (2007).

16 December

There are No Slaves in Prussia?

The lecture discusses slavery in Brandenburg–Prussia during the reign of Frederick the Great (1740–86), a topic long neglected as Frederick’s realm was not regarded as a slave-trading nation, either at the time or in modern historiography. Yet imports of black slaves and the repercussions of the transatlantic slave trade continued, in a central European country without colonies.

Rebekka von Mallinckrodt was appointed Professor of Early Modern History at the University of Bremen in 2012 after holding a Junior Professorship at the Free University of Berlin from 2005 to 2012. Her publications include Structure and Collective Appropriations: Cologne Brotherhoods in the Age of Confessionalization (2005); Life on the Move: Body Techniques in the Early Modern Period (2008); and Sports and Physical Exercise in Early Modern Culture: New Perspectives on the History of Sports and Motion (co-edited with Angela Schattner, forthcoming 2015).

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 2014 (PDF file)

Previous Seminars

Public Lectures

4 November

Ignorance, Indifference, Inaction? The Volksgemeinschaft and the Holocaust

GHIL in cooperation with the Faculty of History, University of Oxford

Germans could learn about the Holocaust, if they only wanted to. Some of them did. But what exactly did they know and what did they do with their knowledge? Obviously attitudes towards the ‘final solution’ varied hugely. And concrete action included participation in plundering and killing on the one hand, and resistance and rescuing Jews on the other. In some cases, murderers rescued and resisters murdered. Nevertheless, the majority of the Volksgenossen remained passive. The Holocaust neither became a crucial test for the Nazi regime nor did it mobilize the approval of the masses. Based on ego-documents such as diaries and letters, the lecture discusses the still challenging question of how ordinary Germans responded to the genocide of the Jews.

Birthe Kundrus is Professor of Social and Economic History at the University of Hamburg. Her research specializes on German history, especially National Socialism and the German Empire, and on the history of violence and genocide. She is the author of Kriegerfrauen: Familienpolitik und Geschlechterverhältnisse im Ersten und Zweiten Weltkrieg (1995) and Moderne Imperialisten: Das Kaiserreich im Spiegel seiner Kolonien (2003), and the editor of Phantasiereiche: Zur Kulturgeschichte des deutschen Kolonialismus (2003). A volume edited jointly with Sybille Steinbacher, Kontinuitäten und Diskontinuitäten: Der Nationalsozialismus in der Geschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts, was published in 2013.

27 November

The End of Modern Statehood? Globalization and the Nation-State

GHIL in cooperation with the Seminar in Modern German History, Institute of Historical Research, University of London

Globalization seems to be threatening the most successful form of modern statehood: the nation-state. The political autonomy of national governments and the capacity for self-government of national societies seem to be waning in a world of growing global cultural and economic interrelations. This lecture will examine such diagnoses from a historical perspective. It will argue that modern statehood has developed in response to globalization since the nineteenth century; the nation-state is neither static nor self-contained. Rather, it is a product as well as an actor of globalization. Therefore globalization is responsible for the nation-state’s genesis as much as for its current transformation.

Julia Angster is Professor of Modern History at the University of Mannheim. She earned her Ph.D. and her Habilitation at the University of Tübingen; from 2010 to 2012 she was Professor of British and North American History at the University of Kassel. Her fields of research include German contemporary history, transatlantic relations, the British Empire, and international relations. She is the author of Erdbeeren und Piraten: Die Royal Navy und die Ordnung der Welt 1770–1860 (2012); Reform und Krise: Die Bundesrepublik Deutschland 1963–1982 (2012); and Konsenskapitalismus und Sozialdemokratie: Die Westernisierung von SPD und DGB (2003).

Download flyers:
Birthe Kundrus lecture (PDF file)
Julia Angster lecture (PDF file)

Previous Public Lectures


European Leo Baeck Lecture Series London, 2014

The Jews and the Great War

This season’s topic examines how the experience of the First World War reshaped Jewish history and culture and challenged perceptions of Jewish identity in the UK, Palestine, Germany and Eastern Europe.

[more details]