German Historical Institute London

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Seminars 2017

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.

16 May

Andrew Thompson (Exeter)
The Making of Multiculturalism: Post-War Immigration in Britain and France, and the Global Dynamics of Decolonization

Decolonization set in train a series of large-scale population flows, equivalent or greater in scale to those witnessed today. Among the new mobilities that marked the end of empire was the reverse flow of subjects from nearly and newly independent colonies to the cities of Europe. Highly charged political debates about restrictive immigration legislation, the welfare of migrants, and social inclusion and cohesion rapidly followed. This lecture will explore the experience of post-war Britain, with particular reference to the politically fraught and at times explosive issue of housing, and will draw explicit comparisons with the parallel experiences of France. It will show how many of the debates surrounding immigration today were anticipated, if not prefigured, from the 1950s to the 1970s, when an explicit discourse of race relations first emerged.

Andrew Thompson is Professor of Modern History at the University of Exeter and Chief Executive of the AHRC. In his research, he explores the effects of empire on British private and public life during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, transnational migrations, and migrant remittances. His books include Imperial Britain: The Empire in British Politics, c.1880–1932 (2000), and Empire and Globalisation? Networks of People, Goods and Capital in the British World, c.1850–1914 (2010).

13 June

W. Mark Ormrod (York)
England’s Immigrants, 1330–1550: Defining the Rights of Aliens in Later Medieval England

Over the course of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the English state began to scrutinize more closely aliens living within its bounds, not least with a view to taxing them more heavily than their English-born counterparts. At the same time, it began to experiment with measures that allowed such aliens the medieval equivalent of national citizenship, known as denization. The lecture will examine the various motivations of the state and of immigrants during this formative period in English naturalization laws.

W. Mark Ormrod is Professor of History and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at the University of York. He is the author of many books and articles on later medieval English history, including the Yale University Press ‘English Monarchs’ volume on Edward III (2011). His recent project on immigration to England in the later Middle Ages has generated the major online database, ‘England’s Immigrants, 1330–1550’:

20 June

William O’Reilly (Cambridge)
Strangers, Subjects, Citizens: Changing Attitudes to Immigrants in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century England

This lecture will consider the debates surrounding immigration to England in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and reflects on why at that time a discernible change occurred in how migrants were treated. It will examine emerging ideas of a ‘British’ Protestant identity and the ever-changing relationship with continental Europe, and reflect on changing ideas of Englishness and on popular and public attitudes to foreign workers in England. A rhetoric of ‘suitability’ for English society meant that many foreigners were denied charity and employment, and were directed away from England’s shores.

William O’Reilly is Associate Director of the Centre for History and Economics and Senior Lecturer in Early Modern History at the University of Cambridge. He is the author of The Atlantic World, 1450–1800 (2014) and Selling Souls: The Traffic in German Migrants, Habsburg Europe and America, 1648–1780 (forthcoming 2017). He is currently writing a biography of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI (1685–1740).

4 July

Diane Frost (Liverpool)
Work, Community and Exclusion: West African Seafarers in Early Twentieth-Century Liverpool

The lecture will consider a number of exclusionary mechanisms that operated in early twentieth-century Britain with specific reference to black seafarers in colonial ports like Liverpool. It will explore measures instituted at different levels of British society throughout the 1920s, including those introduced at state level that aimed to undermine the legal status of black seafarers, and pressures from ‘below’, from those sections of organized labour that campaigned against the employment of black labour. Both responses will be located in the specific socio-economic and historical conditions of the post-First World War period, and take into account localized factors prevailing in colonial seaports like Liverpool.

Diane Frost lectures in Sociology at the University of Liverpool and has research and teaching interests in the history of Black Liverpool, migration, identity and belonging, asylum, and race hate. Her books include Africa in Crisis (2002, co-edited with A. B. Zack-Williams and A. Thompson) and From the Pit to the Market: Politics and the Diamond Economy in Sierra Leone (2012).

3 October

Dagmar Ellerbrock (Dresden)
Trigger-Happy Germans? How to Explain the Transformation of German Gun Culture in the Twentieth Century

German gun culture in the nineteenth century was marked by widespread ownership and use of private firearms. By the end of the twentieth century German gun culture had become regulated and moralized. How can we account for this transformation? Are emotions important for understanding why the trigger-happy German has all but disappeared? And can other societies learn lessons from this in their efforts to regulate private handguns?

Dagmar Ellerbrock is Professor of Modern History at the University of Dresden. In her research she has specialized on the American occupation of Germany after 1945 and German gun culture in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. She is the author of Healing Democracy. Demokratie als Heilmittel: Gesundheit, Krankheit und Politik in der amerikani - schen Besatzungszone 1945–1949 (2004), and Deutsche Schießwut: Zur Transformation der deutschen Waffenkultur im 19. und frühen 20. Jahrhundert (forthcoming 2018).

17 October

Alexandra Walsham (Cambridge)
Recycling the Sacred: Material Culture and Cultural Memory after the English Reformation

This paper examines medieval liturgical artefacts that survived the English Reformation by being converted to alternative religious and secular purposes. It explores the underlying theological assumptions that legitimized such acts of ‘recycling’—they offer new insights into how Protestantism reconfigured traditions of commemoration and patterns of remembrance. The paper also considers their role in resisting religious change, in preserving tangible traces of the Catholic past, and in perpetuating and complicating social and cultural memory.

Alexandra Walsham is Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Trinity College. She has published widely on the religious and cultural history of early modern Britain. Her recent books include The Reformation of the Landscape: Religion, Identity and Memory in Early Modern Britain and Ireland (2011) and Catholic Reformation in Protestant Britain (2014).

14 November

Jan Eckel (Tübingen)
New Perspectives on the History of International Politics in the Twentieth Century

This lecture suggests a new chronology of international politics in the twentieth century. It will argue that the century was marked by a series of transformative moments, not just the second ‘thirty years war’ followed by the Cold War. In order to understand the crucial driving forces behind international relations, historians need to focus on the interplay between superpower antagonism, anti-imperial aspirations, post-colonial attempts to create a new world order, the deep splits within the Communist world, and the multiple forms of global governance.

Jan Eckel is Professor of Modern and Contemporary History at the University of Tübingen. He is the author of the prize-winning book Die Ambivalenz des Guten: Menschenrechte in der internationalen Politik seit den 1940er Jahren (2014, forthcoming in English with OUP). He has also specialized in the history of German historiography and scholarship and is currently working on a book on international politics in the twentieth century.

5 December

Frances Andrews (St Andrews)
Medieval Europe through Monastic Eyes

As global history takes centre stage, the interconnectedness of high medieval Europe might seem to be a given. Yet the widely held belief that medieval men and women lived their lives with little awareness of the world beyond their village and its fields persists. Nor do modern historians easily associate European interconnectedness with professional religious, the monks, nuns, and friars. This talk opens up an alternative view, exploring the many chapter meetings to which they travelled, how those meetings worked, and what they made of them, picturing medieval Europe through monastic eyes.

Frances Andrews is Professor of Medieval History at the University of St Andrews. Her books include The Early Humiliati (1999), The Other Friars (2006), and several edited volumes, most recently, Doubting Christianity: The Church and Doubt, co-edited with Charlotte Methuen and Andrew Spicer (2016).


Seminars — Spring 2017  (PDF file)

Seminars — Summer 2017 "Migration, Citizenship and Welfare in British History"  (PDF file)

Seminars — Autumn 2017  (PDF file)