German Historical Institute London

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Seminars 2014

4 February

Lutheran Visual Culture during the Renaissance and Baroque

This paper will ask how and why early modern Lutheranism, a confession that derived its significance from the promulgation of the Word of God, came to value the visual so highly. Taking as its key example the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century history of the very first Reformation altarpiece (Lucas Cranach’s Schneeberg Altar, 1539), it will explore the changing role that images played in constructing Lutheran identity and promoting Lutheran piety. Bridget Heal is a Senior Lecturer in Modern History at the University of St Andrews, director of the St Andrews Reformation Studies Institute, and co-editor of German History. Her publications include The Cult of the Virgin Mary in Early Modern Germany: Protestant and Catholic Piety, 1500–1648 (2007).

18 February

The Austrian Food Crisis and the Practices of Global Governance, 1918–45

This seminar explores how the food and financial crisis which gripped Austria after the First World War shaped the ideas and practices of global governance developed by the League of Nations. Aid to Austria encouraged a broader understanding of ‘security’, a trend usually identified with the notion of ‘human security’ in the past two decades. The seminar will touch on how ideas of global ‘ordering’ informed this international intervention, and on its problematic legacies for Austria and international agency in the twentieth century. Patricia Clavin is Professor of International History at the University of Oxford. She has published widely on the history of international cooperation, the history of the Great Depression and modern European history. Her most recent book, Securing the World Economy: The Reinvention of the League of Nations, 1920–1946, appeared in 2013.

11 March

Urbanization, Suburbanization, and Gentrification: A Comparative Look at English and German Develop ments since the mid-1940s

‘Vertical slums abroad, horizontal slums in England.’ This is how Elizabeth Denby described what she saw as a specifically English form of urbanization in 1938. The seminar explores the fundamental differences that have continued to shape urban development in Britain and Germany since the 1940s, when suburbanization and, more recently, gentrification became the defining patterns of urban life. Friedrich Lenger is Professor of Modern History at the University of Gießen. His research focuses on the social and economic history of Europe and North America since the late eighteenth century. His recent publications include European Cities in the Modern Era, 1850–1914 (2012); Metropolen der Moderne: Eine europäische Stadtgeschichte seit 1850 (2013); and the edited volume Kollektive Gewalt in der Stadt: Europa 1890–1939 (2013).

18 March

‘Inside was a Parchment, so beautifully painted on all sides’: The Ornate Charter of the Hanoverian Succession

In 1701 the English Parliament passed the Act of Settlement. To secure the Protestant succession, the crown was to pass to Electress Sophia, a granddaughter of James I/VI, and her descendants. The Act resulted in a unique diplomatic mission: in order to become law, it had to be conveyed to, and accepted by, the Hanoverian court. This seminar will look at the actual parchment sent and its presentation. Ulrike Weiss is Lecturer in Art History at the University of St Andrews and was curator of Landesgeschichte at the History Museum, Hanover. Her most recent publications explore Hanoverian political iconography in numismatics and aspects of court culture. They include Das Ross springt auf die Insel: Zur Entstehung, Verbreitung und Wirkung der bekanntesten Medaille auf die hannoversche Sukzession (2011); and Die Königin hat (die) Hosen an: Caroline Mathilde von Dänemark zu Pferd (2013).


First World War Noices - Seminar Series | Summer Term 2014

In Monty Python’s famous record shop, First World War Noises was not among the “terrifically popular” items. While other records were selling fast, the soundtrack of the Great War got stuck. In modern historiography, too, the acoustics of history were left on the shelf for a long time – historians have only just begun to discover the significance of sound as a field of research.

Inspired by this new strand of scholarship, the German Historical Institute London will mark this year’s centenary with a series of lectures that revolve around the auditory dimensions of the First World War. In order to highlight the experience and the impact of sound in history from various angles, the lecture series will take a broad approach, including perspectives from military history, media history, the history of music and the history of collective memory.

The lectures will explore what the acoustics of the Great War meant for the soldiers on the battlefield and how they influenced public remembrance, popular media and the arts. The lecture series will thus probe the place of sound both in contemporary experience and the aftermath of the war.

27 May

War Noises in Silent Films. First World War Battle Reconstructions in British Instructional Films, 1921-1931

British Instructional Films made a series of battle reconstructions with the aid of the War Office and Admiralty that proved smash hits across the Empire. Now almost entirely unknown, these films attempted to show the people of the Empire exactly what their soldiers and sailors had done on their behalf. Using hundreds of troops and ships lent by the army and navy, BIF was able to create epics which thrilled people whilst also making them consider the cost of the war. Of course, these films were never ‘silent’ – sound effects and music were added to enhance as well as shape the viewing experience. In addition, the frequent use of soldiers’ songs in the musical accompaniment encouraged the audiences to sing along, turning a screening into a community experience resurrecting memories and emotions. The lecture will explore what these films reveal about how people across the British Empire understood the war in its immediate aftermath.

Mark Connelly is Professor of Modern British History at the University of Kent. His main research interests are on the memory of war, the image of the armed forces in popular culture and aspects of operational military history. His publications include The Great War: Memory and Ritual (2002); We Can Take It: Britain and the Memory of the Second World War (2004) and Steady the Buffs! A Regiment, a Region and the Great War (2005).

10 June

The Beleaguered Ear. On Fighting Underground and Learning to Listen in the Great War

On the frontlines of the First World War the noise of battle, rattling machine guns, cannonading artillery and bursting shells laid siege to the ear. Soldiers had to learn how to discriminate between these various war noises in order to anticipate looming danger and increase their chances of survival. Technical devices and tactics were designed to detect the sounds of war: listening posts were employed, telephone systems and microphone equipment were installed, sound locators were invented and geophones adapted to the mine war. Unlike the eye that could be closed, however, the ear was always open and constantly in touch with the fighting. Perceiving and identifying war noises became a top priority in the trenches. The lecture will explore the sound of war from the perspective of the soldiers on the battlefields.

Julia Encke is editor of the feuilleton in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung and from 2001 to 2005 was editor of the feuilleton in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. After studying literature in Freiburg, Toulouse and Munich, her doctoral research was on the sensory perception of the First World War. Her publications include Augenblicke der Gefahr. Der Krieg und die Sinne, 1914-1934 (2006) and Charisma und Politik – Warum unsere Demokratie mehr Leidenschaft braucht (2014).

24 June

Reflections of War Sounds in German Concert Halls

Shortly after the outbreak of the First World War, composers in the belligerent countries began to comment on the hostilities in their works. A variety of war noises and their musical representation served as semantic symbols to express their views on the war. They did not rely primarily on the sounds of the battlefield, however, but mostly on other war-related acoustic signals, like anthems, patriotic chorales, military music and marching songs. As the war progressed, more and more tones of sorrow, grievance and denunciation entered the music. After 1918, sarcastically distorted military music and noises from military life were used to express criticism of the unprecedented carnage. The lecture will investigate the aims underlying the German composers' treatment of the sounds of war in their work. It will analyse techniques applied and discuss why the sounds of the battlefield were incorporated only to a limited degree.

Stefan Hanheide is Professor of Music History at the University of Osnabrück. His current research focuses on music in the context of political violence from the seventeenth to the twentieth century. His recent publications include Music Positions its Forces – Functionalisations of Music during the First World War (2013); and Pace. Musik zwischen Krieg und Frieden. 40 Werkporträts (2007).

15 July

War, Impression, Sound and Memory. British Music and the First World War

The First World War occurred at a critical juncture in Britain’s musical history. It led to mass casualties among younger talent, whose cohort had been enjoying a new, more highly respected status as composers and performers, and further marginalized the declining influence of the Victorian pedagogues. The war’s end helped define a musical aftermath of cathartic memory from which the country’s musical institutions had to rebuild. Against this backdrop, British composers not only adopted a new cultural nationalism, but also attempted, in different ways, to represent the sights and sounds of the war in their works. The lecture will analyse how the guns of the Somme, the evocations of the dreadnought battleships, the spectre of mechanized warfare and the sounds of military signals were incorporated into British music of the time.

Jeremy Dibble is Professor of Music at the University of Durham. His research covers a wide range of topics including historiography, Irish music, opera and church music in Britain during the Victorian, Edwardian and Georgian eras. His recent book publications include John Stainer: A Life in Music (2007); Michele Esposito (2010); and Hamilton Harty: Musical Polymath (2013).

28 October

Money, Trade and Identity: Britain and the Post-War Order

The recreation of a multilateral world system after the Second World War posed serious problems of identity for the British government: could it join a ‘one world’ system, or would it be forced into the ‘two world’ system of the dollar and sterling? The debate was about sovereignty and identity as much as about technical economic policy; and about domestic politics as much as about the international order. The lecture will explore the debates from the end of the war to British membership of the EEC.

Martin Daunton is Professor of Economic History and Head of the School of the Humanities and Social Sciences at Cambridge University. He has written on the political economy of Britain since 1700, and is currently completing a book on the economic government of the world since 1933, as well as editing a collection of essays on the funding of the European state since 1973

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 — Spring 2014 (PDF file)
Seminars — Summer 2014 — First World War Noices (PDF file)
Seminars — Autumn 2014 (PDF file)