German Historical Institute London

17 Bloomsbury Square
London WC1A 2NJ
United Kingdom

Phone: +44 (0)20 - 7309 2050
Fax: +44 (0)20 - 7309 2055 / 7404 5573


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Public Lectures

European Leo Baeck Lecture Series

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.

24 January

Andreas Ranft (Halle)
Luther and the German Princes

This lecture explores Martin Luther’s role as a significant political player in the Protestant princely states and their courts. Luther was not only on a par with the princes as a religious leader, but also contributed, along with other reformers, to the princely propaganda and the legitimization of rule.

Andreas Ranft is Professor of Medieval History at the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg. He specializes in urban social history, the culture of the aristocracy, and court ceremonial. He is the author of Der Basishaushalt der Stadt Lüneburg in der Mitte des 15. Jahrhunderts: Zur Struktur der städtischen Finanzen im späten Mittelalter (1987) and Adelsgesellschaften: Gruppenbildung und Genossenschaft im spätmittelalterlichen Reich (1994).

7 February

Antje Flüchter (Bielefeld)
Temporalization of Cultural Difference: Time Regime and the Perception of Indian Statehood in Early Modern German Travelogues

In the early modern period most travellers wrote almost admiringly about Indian statehood, whereas in modern times India is mostly seen as a developing country, which still has to catch up with the Western world. The lecture will explore this shift, focusing on court ceremonial, the formation of elites, and policies on religions.

Antje Flüchter is Professor of Early Modern History at Bielefeld University. Her research interests are in transcultural studies, European–Asian contacts, transnational history, and the history of knowledge. She is the author of Der Zölibat zwischen Norm und Devianz: Kirchenpolitik und Gemeindealltag in Jülich und Berg im 16. und 17. Jahrhundert (2006) and co-editor of Dimensions of Transcultural Statehood (2014).

28 February

Richard Reid (London)
Mourning and Glory: Emotions and the Historical Imaginary in Africa and Europe

This lecture is concerned with the historical imagination in, and about, Africa in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and explores cultures of temporality and historicity through the lens of emotions. It proposes that owing to alternately melancholic, pessimistic, and nostalgic perspectives on the African past, African history has been steadily displaced and foreshortened in the modern era.

Richard Reid is Professor of the History of Africa at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He has published widely on political history, historical culture, and warfare and militarism in Africa. He is the author of a history of modern Uganda (forthcoming 2017) and co-editor of the Oxford Handbook of Modern African History (2013).

14 March

Jo Fox (Durham)
Careless Talk? Rumour and the Second World War

Belligerent nations went to considerable lengths to trace, document, and contain rumours. Rumour-mongering was universally denounced as a pathological, destructive condition that threatened the war effort. This lecture will argue that, on the contrary, rumour is an inherently human behaviour that offers an insight into complex human behaviours, motivations, and mentalities at times of crisis.

Jo Fox is Professor of Modern History at Durham University. She specializes in the history of propaganda in the twentieth century. Her publications include Film Propaganda in Britain and Nazi Germany: World War II Cinema (2007) and (with David Welch) Justifying War: Propaganda, Politics and the Modern Age (2012). Her present research focuses on rumour in the First and Second World Wars.

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 Spring 2017   (PDF file)

Public Lectures 2017

1 February

Martin H. Geyer (Munich)
Writing the History of Financial Scandals and Capitalism in the Interwar Period

GHIL in co-operation with the Faculty of History, University of Oxford

By looking at a series of interrelated financial scandals in Germany, Belgium, France, and the Netherlands, this lecture will raise questions that pertain to issues concerning democracy, capitalism, and the rise of fascism in the interwar period. In particular, it will focus on the challenges of historical representation vis-à-vis complicated technical details on the one hand, and an overabundance of political discourses, pictures, and conspiracy narratives on the other. It examines the opportunities and limitations of biographical approaches and, in particular, the issue of empathy.

Martin H. Geyer is Professor of Modern German History at the Ludwig Maximilian University Munich. He has worked and published widely on political scandals, the state of emergency in the interwar period, and political and social theories in the 1970s and 1980s. Among his books are Verkehrte Welt. Revolution, Inflation und Moderne: München 1914–1924 (1998) and Die Reichsknappschaft: Versicherungsreformen und Sozialpolitik im Bergbau 1900–1945 (1987). He is currently finishing a book on financial scandals in Germany, Belgium, France, and the Netherlands in the interwar period.

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14 February

Mark Chinca and Christopher Young (Cambridge)
The Mythification of Charlemagne: An Introduction to and Reading from the Kaiserchronik

GHIL in co-operation with the Department of German and Dutch, University of Cambridge

Charlemagne (768–814) ruled over regions and territories that today form part of several European countries. As a result, in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries his legacy was disputed, as both French and German historians claimed him as the father of their respective countries. Today, the Frankish ruler is praised as a father of a unified Europe and as a patron of learning and the arts in the Carolingian Renaissance.

The mythification of the emperor, however, had already begun in his lifetime. In the Middle Ages, in particular, his memory was manipulated to serve a variety of needs. He was not only remembered as the first Christian Emperor, but also became a literary figure at whose court Frankish and French heroes gathered. And he could also be seen as a crusading hero himself. In 1165, in the incipient conflicts between French and German claims to his tradition, the emperor was even declared a saint.

Mark Chinca, Reader in Medieval and Early Modern German Literature, and Christopher Young, Professor of Modern and Medieval German Studies at the University of Cambridge, will provide an introduction to the Kaiserchronik, the first vernacular verse chronicle in Europe, and a central source for twelfth-century historical memory in general and the image of Charlemagne in the Holy Roman Empire in particular. The introductory remarks will be followed by a reading from the new English translation of the Kaiserchronik.

The seminar is the concluding part of a workshop on the memory and the myth of Charlemagne which will take place on 14 February from 2 p.m.

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9 March

Britta Schilling (Utrecht)
Germany’s Colonial Material

GHIL in co-operation with the Seminar in Modern German History, Institute of Historical Research, University of London

This talk will consider the relationship between German colonialism and material culture. It will argue for the importance of the material in attempts to establish and maintain German political power and cultural identity in its overseas empire between 1884 and 1919 and beyond. It will also consider the utility of material culture analysis for understanding more recent developments in ‘postcolonial’ Germany.

Britta Schilling is Assistant Professor of Cultural History at Utrecht University. She is the author of Postcolonial Germany: Memories of Empire in a Decolonized Nation (2014) and ‘German Postcolonialism in Four Dimensions: A Historical Perspective’, Postcolonial Studies, 18 / 4 (2015). She is currently working on a comparative history of European homes in sub-Saharan Africa in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Download flyer   (PDF file)

If not otherwise stated, lectures are held 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 lectures.

European Leo Baeck Lecture Series London, 2016-17

The Legacy of the Left and Israel: 1967-2017

This season´s topic intends to discuss the complicated and multi-layered relationship of the European Left with Zionism and the State of Israel. We will examine this broad subject from a historical perspective and will shed light on the different debates in various European countries.

[more details]