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Previous Public Lectures 2019

23 January
(5.30pm)

Elissa Mailänder (Paris)
Self-Confident, Autonomous, and Liberated? Politicized Gender Relations in Nazi Film, 1939–1945

GHIL in co-operation with the Faculty of History, University of Oxford

The Nazis drew upon a wide range of media first to mobilize voters, then to consolidate power, and, ultimately, to motivate German citizens in waging war. The flourishing German film industry lured more than a million spectators into cinemas each year during the war. Blockbusters such as Wunschkonzert, Stukas, and Die grosse Liebe explicitly targeted a young audience who, in their entertainment, craved romance, adventure, and escapism from the realities of everyday life. By juxtaposing these action films and romantic comedies with contemporary events the movies showcased a ‘fun’ and dynamic Nazi society while promoting highly politicized images of ‘modern’ gender relations.

Elissa Mailänder is an Associate Professor of Contemporary History at Sciences Po in Paris. Her research interests include the history of violence, gender, and sexuality. Mailänder’s previous work has focused on perpetrator history and the everyday in Nazi concentration and extermination camps. Her new project examines heterosexual relationships in Nazi Germany and highlights the importance of mass participation and practices of everyday conformity with mass dictatorship.

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28 February
(5.30pm)

Stefanie Michels (Hamburg)
Connected Families: West Africa and Southern Germany, 1891–1896

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

Taking the example of Tube Meetom and Rudolf Duala Manga Bell, two boys from elite families of Duala, Cameroon, living with a petty bourgeois German family, this lecture discusses child circulation practices of the Atlantic contact zone in relation to notions of ‘family’ and home-making. On the level of colonial control the ambivalent practices of state control through the male custodian and the agency of the African father by means of financial and social interaction are highlighted. On the affec-tive level an array of relations between extended families points to bonds not governed by the logic of ‘race’ and coloniality. Although in the end the German colonial authorities forcefully limited the ambitions of the two boys by exiling one and executing the other, their life stories advanced African independence movements in the 1930s.

Stefanie Michels focuses on German colonial and African history. She teaches at the University of Hamburg and has recently co-edited Global Photographies (2018) and Koloniale Verbindungen — Transkulturelle Erinnerungstopographien: Rheinland und Grasland, Kamerun (forthcoming).

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9 May
(5.15pm for 5.45pm)

Martin Mulsow (Erfurt/Gotha)
Die Illuminaten, Schiller und die Anfänge des Kantianismus

English Goethe Society lecture

In the years after 1784, the centre of the Order of Illuminati, which had been founded by Adam Weishaupt in Bavaria, moved to Central Germany. Now this secret society was active in Gotha, Weimar, and somewhat later in Jena, no longer working against reigning princes, but, at least in Gotha, together with them. The lecture will focus on the small Illuminati group in Jena, which met from 1785 to 1788. It consisted mainly of law students, whose meetings we can reconstruct on the basis of unpublished protocols and lecture scripts. The remarkable thing about this group is that it was closely bound up with the beginning reception of the work of Immanuel Kant and paved the way for its broad impact in the thought of Friedrich Schiller and German Idealism.

Open to the general public. No registration necessary.
Please note that the lecture will be delivered in German.

21 May
(5.30pm)

Thomas Mergel (Berlin)
Modern Revolutions: The History of a Mimesis

The idea of the modern revolution rests on the idea that all individual revolutions are part of one great and all-embracing movement and this is why, in the nineteenth-century, ‘the’ revolution became singular. Marx’s philosophy of history is pivotal in this respect. The lecture conceptualizes the idea of a ‘script’ of the revolution, and discusses how the history of the modern revolution can be grasped as the history of a tradition and, in practical terms, as the history of a constant mimesis. It also pursues the problem of how, in the course of the twentieth century, this script began to fade, as revolutions resembled the Marxian concept less and less, so that today we again speak of a plurality of revolutions.

Thomas Mergel is Professor of Twentieth-Century European History at Humboldt University Berlin. He works on the cultural history of politics since the eighteenth century, in particular, on the history of political communication. His publications include Parlamentarische Kommunikation in der Weimarer Republik: Politische Kommunikation, symbolische Politik und Öffentlichkeit im Reichstag (3rd edn. 2012)

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