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.

1 May

Pat Thane (King’s College London)
Divided Kingdom: Inequalities in the UK since 1900

This paper surveys patterns of equality in the UK since c.1900, in particular, how income inequality narrowed, especially from 1945 to the late 1970s, but has now returned to much earlier levels. It asks how changes—for better and worse—in this and other inequalities, including gender, race, and age, have come about.

Pat Thane, MA (Oxon), Ph.D. (LSE), FBA, is Research Professor in Contemporary British History, King’s College London. Her research interests include gender, welfare, and social inequalities in Britain in the last century. Her recent publications include Sinners? Scroungers? Saints? Unmarried Motherhood in Twentieth Century Britain, with Tanya Evans (2012). Her monograph Divided Kingdom: A History of Britain since 1900 will be published by CUP in May 2018.

15 May

Keith Robbins
Oxford University Press 1970–2004: Organizing a Publishing History

Oxford University Press reasonably claims to be the largest university press in the world, operating in many different locations and meeting complex needs. It is the unusual department of a great university and committed to its educational purpose and academic mission. The challenge before it in this period has been to survive and prosper during decades of publishing turbulence and technological change. Its situation can be put simply: making a surplus is not its purpose but it has had to make a surplus in order to survive. This talk explores how it has responded.

Keith Robbins, FRSE, FRHistS, FLSW, has been Professor of Modern History at Bangor and Glasgow universities and Senior Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wales. He has published widely on nineteenth and twentieth-century political, diplomatic, cultural, and religious history including Munich 1938 (1968); Sir Edward Grey (1971); Nineteenth-Century Britain: Integration and Diversity (1988); Britain and Europe 1789–2005 (2005); England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales: The Christian Church 1900–2000 (2008).

29 May

Amanda Power (St Catherine’s College Oxford)
Medieval Histories of the Anthropocene

The ‘global middle ages’ is a relatively new idea in both medieval and global history. The conventional view of ‘the global’ as a post-1500 process extends the work that ignorance of the medieval past has long done to legitimize the political, economic, and intellectual regimes of modernity. It strategically obliterates the planet itself by locating the meanings and significance of ‘the global’ narrowly in the history of human connections. The concept of a ‘global middle ages’ can run against all this. Drawing on new work in the environmental humanities, anthropology, political theory, the ‘nonhuman turn’, and much else, medievalists can develop fresh approaches to invigorate both the discipline of global history, and the study of our own period.

Amanda Power is Associate Professor in History at the University of Oxford. She works on questions of religion, power, and public rationality in medieval Europe and is involved in the development of the new field of global medieval history. Her publications include Roger Bacon and the Defence of Christendom (2012).

12 June

Matthew P. Fitzpatrick (Flinders, South Australia)
The Kaiser’s Weltpolitik? Constitutional Monarchy in the Age of Empire

Via a series of case studies, this lecture interrogates the idea that Wilhelm II was the guiding hand on Germany’s foreign policy tiller. Through a discussion of the genocidal war in South-West Africa, the development of the Baghdad Railway, and the aftermath of the Boxer Rebellion, the lecture looks at the royal prerogative in action and suggests that despite claims to the contrary, the Kaiser’s scope for independent action was surprisingly limited.

Matthew P. Fitzpatrick is Associate Professor of International History at Flinders University, South Australia. He is the author of Purging the Empire: Mass Expulsions from Germany, 1871–1914 (2015) and Liberal Imperialism in Germany: Expansionism and Nationalism in Germany, 1848–1884 (2008). He is a past winner of the Chester Penn Higby Prize and has been a Humboldt Fellow at the Westphalian Wilhelms University in Münster.

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 Summer 2018   (PDF file)

Previous Seminars

Public Lectures 2018

9 May

Katharina Karcher (University of Bristol)
An anti-authoritarian threat to national security? Rudi Dutschke’s exile in the UK

This is an opening talk for the exhibition “ANTI-AUTHORITARIANS; Berlin 1968 / 2018” that will be hosted by the GHIL from 10 May to 31 July 2018. The talk starts at 5.30pm and will be followed by a general discussion and the opportunity to see the exhibition over a glass of wine afterwards.

The 1960s saw a wave of student revolts around the world. Britain remained largely unaffected by the revolutionary spirit of the time; but anxieties flared when in December 1968 Rudi Dutschke, the charismatic icon of the West German student movement, moved to England after being shot in the head by a right-wing extremist in Berlin. As a result of the attempt on his life, Dutschke suffered memory loss, epileptic fits, and had to re-learn the ability to read and write. Nevertheless, the Home Office considered him a potential threat to national security and expelled him from the country when he wanted to continue his studies in the UK. Drawing on previously unconsidered archival sources in Germany and in the UK and on interviews with contemporary witnesses, this talk will give a brief overview of Rudi Dutschke’s exile in the UK. Particular attention will be paid to conflicting narratives of disability and notions of political activity in the Dutschke case. I will conclude by asking: what can we learn from the Dutschke case when it comes to academic freedom and immigration in post-Brexit Britain?

Katharina Karcher is Lecturer of German Cultural Studies at the University of Bristol. She holds a PhD in German Studies from the University of Warwick. Her work focuses on radical protest and political violence in the Federal Republic of Germany. She has published essays on feminist theory and politics, women's involvement in political violence and feminist activism in the FRG. Her recent monograph (published by Berghahn books) deals with militant feminism in the Federal Republic of Germany since 1968. Currently, she is working on a study of the UK exile of the prominent German student leader Rudi Dutschke.

21 June

Ulrich Herbert (Freiburg)
The Russian October Revolution and the German Labour Movement

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

German History Society Annual Lecture

What did the German workers’ movement know about the course, outcome, and effects of the Russian October Revolution; how were the events perceived and judged? The lecture examines the significance of the revolutionary events in Russia and the subsequent civil war for the course of the majority SPD after the November Revolution and for the splitting of the workers’ movement. Of particular interest is how the reports on Russia influenced Ebert’s decision to co-operate with the Reichswehr leadership in suppressing the revolutionary workers, and what role the Bolshevik leadership played in initiating the numerous left-wing uprising attempts until 1923.

Ulrich Herbert is Professor of Modern History at the University Freiburg. His publications include A History of Germany in the Twentieth Century (2018); Hitler’s Foreign Workers: Enforced Foreign Labor in Germany under the Third Reich (1997); National Socialist Extermination Policy: Contemporary German Perspectives and Controversies (1999); and A History of Foreign Labor in Germany, 1880–1980 (1990).

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Previous Public Lectures

European Leo Baeck Lecture Series London, 2017-18

The Difficulties of Writing Family History

This season’s topic intends to discuss the challenges which arise when writing a European-Jewish family history set in the historically and politically charged period of the late 19th to the mid-20th century. What scholarly problems does a writer encounter, what emotional difficulties does an author face – especially in terms of allowing the public access to one’s own personal history, and how can these challenges be dealt with?

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