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Seminars 2012

17 January

The Moltkes: A Very British Family

The Moltkes are among the most fascinating German families of the last 200 years. At a time when the British–German relationship was starting to unravel, they were an exception among the East Elbian Prussian elite because they married English women. The famlily’s Western orientation led Helmuth James Moltke, strongly supported by his wife Freya, to resist Hitler. Even in today’s Germany, the continuation of a British–German tradition can still be traced: Gebhardt von Moltke served as German ambassador in London, and the children and grandchildren of Helmuth James Moltke live in the Anglo-American world.

Jochen Thies was a Research Fellow at the German Historical Institute London from 1976 to 1978. Subsequently he served as a speech-writer to Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and worked as a journalist. He has published many books, among them Architekt der Weltherrschaft: Die Endziele Hitlers (1976, English trans. forthcoming March 2012); Helmut Schmidt’s Rückzug von der Macht: Das Ende der Ära Schmidt aus nächster Nähe (1988); Die Dohnanyis: Eine Familienbiografie (2004); and Die Moltkes. Von Königgrätz nach Kreisau: Eine deutsche Familien - geschichte (2010). He is working on a family history of the Bismarcks.

7 February

Mapping European Historiography 1800 to 2005: New Perspectives on the Interrelationship between Historiography and European Nation-Building

Research for the Atlas of Modern European Historiography: The Making of a Profession 1800–2005 has opened fresh perspectives on the development of modern historiography in Europe. It has cast new light on relations between the professionalization and nationalization of historiography in a European context.

Lutz Raphael is Professor of Contemporary History at the University of Trier (Germany). His research interests focus on the history and theory of contemporary historiography, and the history of European societies in the twentieth century. Recent publications include Geschichtswissenschaft im Zeitalter der Extreme: Theorien, Methoden, Tendenzen von 1900 bis zur Gegenwart (2nd edn. 2010); Atlas of European Historiography: The Making of a Profession 1800–2005 (co-authored, 2009); Nach dem Boom: Perspektiven auf die Zeitgeschichte seit 1970 (coauthored, 2010); and Imperiale Gewalt und mobilisierte Nation: Europa 1914–1945 (2011).

14 February

Uses of the Visual in the German Renaissance

The Fugger are well known as one of the most powerful merchant families in sixteenth-century Germany. This paper examines the uses of decorative items by members of the family in an age of financial decline. It looks particularly at the uses of leather as material and shoes as objects that had become increasingly important for men to signal civility and elegant comportment at this time. Hans Fugger’s many and often comical letters on this subject document just how difficult it could be even for the wealthy to ‘dress up’ at this time. They also pose the larger methodological questions of how we define the ‘visual’, how we can think of the place of matter in the ‘material Renaissance’, and what looking at surviving objects reveals about the past.

Ulinka Rublack is Reader in Early Modern European History at Cambridge University and Fellow of St John’s College. Her most recent book is Dressing Up: Cultural Identity in Renaissance Europe (2010), which was awarded the Roland H. Bainton Prize for History and was one of six finalists for the Cundill Prize in History, the world’s largest book prize for non-fiction. She is also editor of A Concise Companion to History (2011). Her other publications in English include Reformation Europe (2005) and The Crimes of Women in Early Modern Germany (1999), which was shortlisted for the Longman / History Today Book of the Year Award.

6 March

Black People under Nazi Rule: Perspectives on the ‘Racial State’

Among the groups targeted by National Socialist policies of racial exclusion and elimination between 1933 and 1945 were the members of a small black population, most of them of African origin. Official policies towards them and the quality of their experiences have received relatively little attention from specialist historians; the only published monograph relies entirely on English-language sources. This talk draws on new research on a range of private and official sources to explore that history and consider how what happened to black people in Germany and occupied Europe reflects on our understanding of Nazi racial policy more generally.

Eve Rosenhaft is Professor of German Historical Studies at the University of Liverpool. She has published books and articles on aspects of German social and cultural history since the eighteenth century, including work on labour and gender history, ‘Gypsy’ and Holocaust studies, the history of financial practices, and race and colonialism. She is the co-author, with Robbie Aitken, of a forthcoming monograph on Africans in twentieth-century Germany, on which this talk is based.

20 March

Connecting Histories of Work and Non-Work: African Labour History in a Global Perspective

What constitutes work and what does not? What is legitimate and what is illegal work? Who invents, abolishes, and resurrects these divisions? And what are the practices and policies surrounding these questions? This paper discusses the transformations which the division between work and non-work underwent in twentieth-century Africa. It will look especially at labour regulations and social policy, and at the role of the state and international organizations such as the ILO in these processes.

Andreas Eckert holds the Chair of African History at the Humboldt University Berlin and is Director of the International Research Centre ‘Work and Human Life Course in Global History’, funded by the German Ministry of Research and Education. He has published widely on the history of Africa in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, colonialism, and global history. He is currently writing a general history of Africa since 1850. Andreas Eckert contributes regularly to German newspapers, especially the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

8 May

Is Biography an Academically Respectable Way to Study History?

For many years serious academic historians avoided biography. It lacked the rigour of social or economic history and the formal properties of history based on political science: biography was too personal, too literary, and too soft. In the last twenty-five years, Ian Kershaw, Richard Bosworth, Lothar Gall, Paul Preston, John Röhl, Niall Ferguson, and many others have written biographies that command respect and attention from all serious students of European history. This talk will argue that reflection on the nature of historical knowledge, that is, an epistemology, can be deployed to give that change in the status of biography sound methodological foundations. Jonathan Steinberg is the Walter H. Annenberg Professor of Modern European History at the University of Pennsylvania and Emeritus Fellow of Trinity Hall, Cambridge. His recent biography Bismarck: A Life (2011) will be published in German translation in autumn 2012.

15 May

Close Marriage, Incest, and the Development of Class Societies

Recent historical studies have established that far from previously held beliefs about the trajectory of modern society from patrimonial households to large bureaucratic organizations and a rational labour market, there was a rise in kin ties in Western societies from the mid eighteenth to the early twentieth century. These kin networks were a major factor in the development of class stratification. This paper explores the central feature of kin networks in the British middle class in this period: intra-familial marriage and its consequences. Leonore Davidoff is a Research Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Essex. She is the co-author, with Catherine Hall, of the classic, Family Fortunes: Men and Women of the English Middle Class, 1780–1950 (1987). Her new book, Thicker than Water: Siblings and their Relations, 1780–1920 was published in November last year. She is the founding editor of the international journal Gender and History.

22 May

Senatorial Bishops? The Rise of Episcopal Power in Gaul (400–600)

Bishops became leading figures in their towns and gained considerable secular power in the transitional period between late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages. The politico-religious framework forged in this period displayed a remarkable continuity, lasting until the nineteenth century in Germany. The paper challenges established views about the rule of bishops in Gaul and proposes a new explanation. Steffen Patzold teaches medieval history at the Eberhard Karls Universität in Tübingen. His research focuses on European history from 500 to 1200, in particular, on political history and the history of religious institutions. He is the author of Episcopus: Wissen über Bischöfe im Frankenreich des späten 8. bis frühen 10. Jahrhunderts (2008) and his current project is a prosopography of the Gaulish episcopate from 400 to 700.

12 June

One Village, Five Religions: New Approaches to the Analysis of Religious Coexistence in Early Modern Germany

Neustadt Gödens was a small village in early modern Germany with a unique multi-religious character. Calvinists, Lutherans, Catholics, Mennonites, and Jews all coexisted there, practising their individual faiths almost undisturbed. This paper seeks to shed new light on the discussion of religious coexistence and segregation by examining the legal framework of religious coexistence, its social and cultural context, and its economic underpinnings including migration. Dagmar Freist is Professor of Early Modern History at the University of Oldenburg and co-founder of the research network NESICT <>. Her research interests include religious diversity, political culture, and the public sphere in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century England and Germany. Her publications include Governed by Opinion: Politics, Religion and the Dynamics of Communication in London, c.1637–1645 (1998); Absolutismus: Kontroversen um die Geschichte (2008); and Living with Religious Diversity in Early Modern Europe (co-ed. 2009).

9 October

From Wind Tunnels to Jet Fighters: German Émigrés and the Making of Aeronautics in India

Even though recent scholarship has brought German advances in aeronautics and aerodynamics during the middle of the twentieth century to our attention, we are nowhere close to an overview of its global spread and impact beyond the West. This paper will explore one aspect of this history by drawing on the stories of German émigré scientists and engineers in India. It will attempt to link three separate waves of German emigration to India (1930s to the 1950s) with the development of facilities for advanced research, education, and eventually manufacturing of aircraft. This history is worth revisiting in order to understand the conditions that made emigration possible and attractive, what those conditions tell us about Indian science and technology, and the nature of European expertise abroad.

Jahnavi Phalkey is Lecturer in History of Science and Technology at King’s College London. She has studied politics and history of science at the University of Bombay, the School of Oriental and African Studies (London), and Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta). Her doctoral dissertation received the Sardar Patel Award (2008) for the best dissertation submitted at an American university in the field of modern Indian studies. Her research is focused on the history of science at its intersection with the transformation of the Indian subcontinent in the twentieth century, seen especially in its effects on laboratory practice.

30 October

From Getting to Spending: Consumer Culture and the Making of Jewish Identity

Anti-Semitic stereotypes of Jews as capitalists have paralysed research into the economic dimension of the Jewish past. The figure of the Geldjude haunted the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. But Jews were not only money-makers but also money-spenders. This paper will offer an insight into this crucial and neglected axis of consumption, identity, and Jewish history in Europe. It will show how the advances of modernization and secularization in the modern period increased the importance of consumption in Jewish life, making it a significant factor in the process of re-defining Jewishness.

Gideon Reuveni is Reader in History and Director of the Centre for German Jewish Studies at the University of Sussex. He is the author of Reading Germany: Literature and Consumer Culture in Germany before 1933 (2006) and co-editor of several other books on different aspects of Jewish history. His current area of research lies on the intersection between Jewish history and economics. Presently he is working on a book on consumer culture and Jewishness in Europe.

20 November

The First World War as a ‘Break’ in the European History of the Twentieth Century

The First World War was more than a turning point; it was a break in European history which prompted a reorientation of biographies, political and social systems, and, above all, mental structures in almost all academic disciplines. Starting from biographical sketches from the time of the war, the paper will demonstrate the confusion and reorientation of concepts of time and history during and after the war in Germany.

Lucian Hölscher is Professor of Modern History and the Theory of History at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum. His main fields of research are the social, cultural, and religious history of modern times, the history of concepts, the history of notions of the future, and the theory of time and space. He is author of Die Entdeckung der Zukunft (1999); Neue Annalistik: Umrisse einer Theorie der Geschichte (2003); Geschichte der protestantischen Frömmigkeit (2005); and Semantik der Leere: Grenzfragen der Geschichtswissenschaft (2009).

27 November

Storytelling as a Principle of Knowledge Transfer in the German Jesuit Mission Journal Der Neue Weltbott

The German Jesuit mission journal Der neue Weltbott appeared between 1726 and 1761. Comprising texts, maps, and illustrations, its aim was both the edification of readers and the transfer of knowledge in arts and crafts, nature, and law. Taking the journal’s attempts at a precise localization and representation of knowledge as its starting point, the talk will seek to analyse storytelling more generally as a principle of (Jesuit) epistemology.

Renate Dürr is Professor of Modern History at the Eberhard Karls Universität in Tübingen. Her research interests include the correlation of architectural space with spheres of political action; the role of the Jesuit order in the transfer of knowledge and culture in Europe and the world; and comparative studies of prophets in the early modern period. Her recent publications include Kirchen, Märkte und Tavernen: Erfahrungs- und Handlungsräume in der Frühen Neuzeit (co-ed., 2005); Frauenarbeit in Haus, Handel und Gewerbe: Ihr Beitrag zur Hamburger Stadtwirtschaft im 14. Jahrhundert (2005); and Politische Kultur in der Frühen Neuzeit: Kirchenräume in Hildesheimer Stadt- und Landgemeinden, 1550–1750 (2006).


Seminars — Spring 2012 (PDF file)
Seminars — Summer 2012 (PDF file)
Seminars — Autumn 2012 (PDF file)