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Seminars 2011

18 January

Tyranny of Intimacy: Private Life in the German Democratic Republic

Paul Betts is Professor of Modern European History at the University of Sussex. He is the author of The Authority of Everyday Objects: A Cultural History of West German Industrial Design (2004) and has coedited a number of volumes on aspects of German history in the twentieth century, including (with Christian Wiese) Years of Persecution, Years of Extermination: Saul Friedländer and the Future of Holocaust Studies (2010). His new book, Within Walls: Private Life in the German Democratic Republic, has just been published, and was awarded the Fraenkel Prize for Contemporary History.

1 February

Official Responses to Left-Wing Terrorism in the United States and West Germany in the 1970s

Gabriele Metzler is Professor of the History of Western Europe and Transatlantic Relations at the Humboldt University Berlin. Her publications include Internationale Wissenschaft und nationale Kultur: Deutsche Physiker in der internationalen Community, 1900–1960 (2000); Der deutsche Sozialstaat: Vom Bismarck schen Erfolgsmodell zum Pflegefall (2003); and Konzeptionen politischen Handelns von Adenauer bis Brandt: Politische Planung in der pluralistischen Gesellschaft (2005).

15 March

Social Capital, Gender, and the Consumer Revolution in Early Modern Germany

Sheilagh Ogilvie is Professor of Economic History at the University of Cambridge. Her research focuses on economic development and stagnation in Europe between 1500 and 1800 and the causes of growing divergence between different European economies in this period. Her publications have been awarded several prizes, including the Gyorgy Ranki Prize for State Corporatism and Proto-Industry: The Württemberg Black Forest 1590–1797 (1997); the Rene Kuczynski Prize for A Bitter Living: Women, Markets, and Social Capital in Early Modern Germany (2003); and the Stanley Z. Pech Prize for her article ‘ “So That Every Subject Knows how to Behave”: Social Disciplining in Early Modern Bohemia’, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 48/1 (2006).

29 March

A ‘not entirely Prussian’ Hohenzoller? Emperor Frederick III as Germany’s Missed Opportunity

The memory of Emperor Frederick III (1831-1888) has long been dominated by a wistful notion of "if only." - If only he had lived, Germany would have turned into a kindly Dr Jekyll instead of the illiberal, militarist and aggressive Mr Hyde whose impact on the 20th century was so very calamitous. This paper will challenge the dominance of this interpretation in two ways: it will reconstruct the rather divergent public images of Frederick that were popular in Imperial Germany and it will point to important aspects of Frederick's political beliefs which locate him firmly within the context of the Hohenzollern monarchy.

Frank Lorenz Müller has taught Modern History at the University of St Andrews since 2002. His research focuses on the history of Germany and Britain, as well as their mutual relationship, during the Long Nineteenth Century. He is the author of Britain and the German Question: Perceptions of Nationalism and Political Reform, 1830–1863 (2002) and Die Revolution von 1848/49 (3rd edn. 2009). His current project is a book entitled Our Fritz: Emperor Frederick III and the Political Culture of Imperial Germany (forthcoming 2011).

10 May

Academic History and Party Dominance: The Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, 1945– 1990

This talk discusses the influence of socialist politics on historical research and teaching between 1945 and 1992 at the Humboldt University – until 1945 the leading university in Germany. It examines whether it was possible to establish a Marxist form of historical scholarship with the potential for scholarly innovation combined with independence from attempts at ideological control and from the politics of the day. The talk presents the lives of the new professors and the political and scholarly context for their work in the aftermath of the Third Reich, considers their ambivalence towards the legacy of “bourgeois scholarship” and their relationship with historical scholarship in West Germany in the context of the Cold War. The talk discusses conflicts in the relationship between the East German state and party and the university (especially in 1953, 1968 and 1976), scholars’ adjustment to the new circumstances but also a process that continuously institutionalized an autonomous form of historical scholarship at the Humboldt University. Focusing on some of the most influential figures of the new Marxist historical scholarship, these individuals’ conduct is considered within the system of the GDR. The talk concludes with a brief depiction of the processes of reform implemented from 1989 to 1992 which met with controversy among the German public and beyond.

Wolfgang Hardtwig is Professor Emeritus of Modern History at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and co-editor of the journal Geschichte und Gesellschaft. His research deals with Germany in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, especially the Vormärz and the 1848 revolution, political culture in the inter-war period, and the history of historiography. Recent publications include Hochkultur des bürger lichen Zeitalters (2005); Politische Kulturgeschichte der Zwischenkriegszeit 1918–1939 (ed., 2005); Ordnungen in der Krise: Zur politischen Kulturgeschichte Deutschlands 1900–1933 (ed., 2007); and Die Aufklärung und ihre Weltwirkung (2009).

7 June

The Holy Roman Empire 1493-1806 – New Perspectives

Traditionally, the history of the Holy Roman Empire after 1500 was written as a narrative of decline: from the ‘division of the nation’ in the Reformation through the disaster of the Thirty Years War to the dissolution of the Empire in 1806. Joachim Whaley suggests an alternative view and argues that the Reich and its institutions functioned successfully, fostering local, regional and national loyalties until, like other European polities, it succumbed to Napoleon’s ambitions and superior military power.

Joachim Whaley is a Fellow of Gonville and Caius College and Senior Lecturer in German at the University of Cambridge. He specializes in German history and culture since 1500 and contemporary Ger man politics. He is the author of Religious Toleration and Social Change in Hamburg, 1529–1819 (1985; new ed. 2002). His two-volume study The Holy Roman Empire 1493–1806 will be published in November 2011.

21 June

Jeddah: Daily Life in a Cosmopolitan Ottoman City

This lecture will introduce late Ottoman Jeddah, a city marked by its double function as an important Red Sea port and as the main port for the annual Muslim pilgrimage, the Hajj. The cosmopolitan nature of the population, which changed considerably over time, can be contrasted with a range of practices which emphasised locality and social distinctions. The lecture will thus draw attention to the various uses of space in and around the city, drawing on local narratives, travellogues and historical photographs.

Ulrike Freitag is Professor of Islamic Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin and Director of the Centre of Modern Oriental Studies in Berlin. Her most important publications include The City in the Ottoman Empire: Migration and the Making of Urban Modernity (co-ed., 2010); Translocality: The Study of Globalising Processes from a Southern Perspective (co-ed., 2010); Indian Ocean Migrants and State Formation in Hadhramaut (2003); and Geschichtsschreibung in Syrien, 1920–1990 (1991). Her current research project deals with urbanity in the Ottoman Empire, particularly the urban history of Jeddah (in Saudi Arabia).

28 June

Precedent-setting or Precluded? The "NATO Enlargement Question" in the Triangular Bonn-Washington-Moscow Diplomacy of 1990/1991 and Beyond

In the run up to 1999 Germany was keen to see Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia join NATO; in view of the second eastern enlargement round in 2004 which included the Baltic states, the USA in particular was seen in the driving seat. Controversy has now lasted for some fifteen years over whether Germans and Americans alike were breaking a pledge made to Moscow during German unification diplomacy that NATO would never expand beyond Germany to Central and Eastern Europe. But was the Kremlin betrayed, and if so, by whom and how and when? Or did Moscow simply misread various tactical advances as a fully-fledged pledge? This paper will seek to offer new answers to these questions by exploring not simply US-Soviet-West German triangular diplomacy in 1990 but in particular the evolution of different approaches and ideas floated publicly and privately, at home and abroad, by chancellor Kohl, foreign minister Genscher and defence minister Stoltenberg. With reference to the cases of both Germany and the Baltic states during the turmoil of the Cold War endgame, the paper will ask whether all-German NATO membership can be interpreted as a precedent-setting NATO expansion as has recently been claimed.

Kristina Spohr Readman is Senior Lecturer in International History at the LSE. She specializes in the international affairs of Germany since 1945 and the ending of the Cold War and the methodology of contemporary history. Her publications include Germany and the Baltic Problem after the Cold War: The Development of a new Ostpolitik, 1989–2000 (2004); Building Sustainable and Effective Military Capabilities: A Systemic Comparison of Professional and Conscript Forces (ed., 2004); and the forthcoming co-edited special issue of the Journal of Contemporary History (3/2011) entitled At the Crossroads of Past and Present: ‘Contemporary’ History and the Historical Discipline. She is currently writing a book on Germany in international politics under Helmut Schmidt.

4 October

Against the Grain: The Swiss Parish Republic of Gersau in the Age of Absolutism

After sustained engagement with monarchical state-building and concepts like absolutism and confessionalization, scholars have rediscovered republicanism as a prominent feature of the early modern landscape. The focus lies on political thought, representation, and civil society. This paper, in contrast, examines the history and self-reflection of a peasant micro-republic on Lake Lucerne. Highly autonomous in both the secular and ecclesiastical spheres over several centuries, it offers rare insights into genuinely popular government and a fundamental alternative to the prevailing tendencies of centralization and territorial expansion.

Beat Kümin is Professor of Early Modern European History at the University of Warwick. Following undergraduate studies at Berne and doctoral research at Cambridge, he specialized in the social and cultural history of local communities in England and German-speaking Europe c.1400–1800. His publications include The Shaping of a Community: The Rise and Reformation of the English Parish c.1400–1560 (1996); Drinking Matters: Public Houses and Social Exchange in Early Modern Central Europe (2007); and the edited collections Landgemeinde und Kirche im Zeitalter der Konfessionen (2004); Political Space in Pre-industrial Europe (2009); and A Cultural History of Food in the Early Modern Age (c.2011).

25 October

From the Inside: The Story of West Germany, Told by its Prisoners

Between 1949 and 1989 prisoners in West Germany found themselves increasingly ‘nudged’ to represent themselves and their experience of society and the criminal justice system in stories, poems, and other forms of biographical writing. Writing prizes specifically for prisoners were set up, privately and publicly funded; prison newspapers flourished (briefly); and academics actively collected and furthered the publication of prisoner testimonies, for stated reasons that change over time. I am interested in the motivations for encouraging prisoners to write (who benefits, and what is the nature of the benefit?) as well as in how prisoner self-representation interacts with cultural and political developments ‘outside’, and with contemporaneous discursive practices. Who is in control of prisoner narratives, and what kind of story is told from the ‘inside’ at different moments in history?

Sarah Colvin is Professor in the Study of Contemporary Germany and Director of the Institute for German Studies at the University of Birmingham. She was formerly Eudo C. Mason Chair of German at the University of Edinburgh. Her current research is on reading and writing in prisons; her broader fields of interest include narrative, gender, violence, and theatre. She is the author of Ulrike Meinhof and West German Terrorism (2009); Women and German Drama (2003); and The Rhetorical Feminine: Women and Turks on the German Stage (1999).

15 November

Places of Order and Spheres of Political Action: Examples from Scotland, England, and France in the Late Middle Ages

This paper explores how political orders and contemporary ideas about legitimate rule were grounded in space and distributed through various media. I distinguish between places in which concepts of social order were performed or symbolically represented on the one hand, and spheres of political action in which ruler and ruled encountered each other on the other. I regard the political as a space of communication and action in which collectively mandatory decisions are made and enforced. Such spheres of action may be constituted in designated places such as halls or public squares as well as spontaneously by gatherings of people. Communication in the form of symbolic practices and discursive structures played a fundamental part in the constitution of categories of political order, institutions, and claims to power and rule.

Jörg Rogge is Professor of Medieval History and Academic Director at the Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz. His research focuses on English and Scottish medieval history, the military and society in the Middle Ages, the social and constitutional history of the German Empire, and theories and methods of cultural history. His recent publications include Die deutschen Könige im Mittelalter: Wahl und Krönung (2006, new edn. 2011); Die Wettiner: Aufstieg einer Dynastie im Mittelalter (2005, new edn. 2009); and Cultural History in Europe: Institutions, Themes, Perspectives (2011).

22 November

Science, Gender, Internationalism: A Transnational History of Female Academic Networking, 1919–1955

My presentation explores the forging of a transatlantic world of science and higher learning in the twentieth century and its lasting impact on Germany. It is an account of the formation and fortunes of a new, international community of women, the International Federation of University Women (IFUW). The paper deals with the actors and concepts, programmes and strategies of the Anglo-American dominated umbrella organization, but with special attention to what the IFUW meant for female academics and scholars from Continental Europe, and particularly for those from Germany. The entangled past of the IFUW and Germany reveals a history of a female academic network across national borders and academic cultures, scientific disciplines, and generations. This holds especially true for the period from 1933 to 1945, when the IFUW became an Atlantic, later global network for female academic refugee aid from German persecution.

Christine von Oertzen has been a research scholar at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin since 2005. Previously she was a research fellow at the German Historical Institute in Washington, D.C. Her research interests include cultural history, gender, and the history of science during the twentieth century in transnational perspective. Her monograph, Science, Gender, Internationalism: A Transnational History of Female Academic Networking, will be published in 2012.


Seminars — Spring 2011 (PDF file)
Seminars — Summer 2011 (PDF file)
Seminars — Autumn 2011 (PDF file)