German Historical Institute London

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Previous Public Lectures 2019

23 January

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

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

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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6 June

Maren Möhring (Leipzig)
Travelling around the World: Mass Entertainment in the ‘Haus Vaterland’ in Berlin

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

Annual Lecture of the German History Society

In 1928 a consortium headed by the internationally renowned wine merchant Kempinksi opened a huge entertainment complex at the Potsdamer Platz in Berlin. It consisted not only of a cinema and ballroom, but also of several themed restaurants—among them a Spanish bodega, a Japanese tea room, a Wild West bar, and a Viennese wine tavern. ‘Haus Vaterland’, despite its patriotic name, promised to assemble ‘the world under one roof’ and in this sense borrowed from the World’s Fair imaginaries. Investigating how ‘the world’ was arranged and performed in one of the most prominent places of public entertainment in Weimar Germany can help us better to understand how knowledge and imaginations about ‘the world’ were produced, circulated, and experienced, and how they shaped modern mass entertainment.

Maren Möhring is Professor of Comparative Cultural and Social History at Leipzig University. She is the author of Fremdes Essen: Die Geschichte der ausländischen Gastronomie in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (2012) and is currently working on a publication about ‘Haus Vaterland’ and the transnational history of mass entertainment.

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10 October

Simon MacLean (St Andrews)
The Carolingian Origins of the Medieval Castle

The castle is perhaps the most recognisable feature of the Western European landscape in the Middle Ages, dominating medieval social and political order from the eleventh century onwards. The origins of the castle are generally assigned to the ninth and tenth centuries, beginning with defensive fortifications established against the Vikings. In this paper I argue that there are problems with this origin story by re-evaluating some of the key sources and assumptions on which it rests. This argument has broader implications for how we think about the significance of fortifications in the last years of the Carolingian Empire; and the evolution of the castle between the ninth and twelfth centuries.

Attendance is free, but seats are limited. If you would like to attend the public lecture, please register with Carole Sterckx  sterckx(ghi)  by 8 October 2019.

13 November

Ulrike Jureit (Hamburg)
Chronicle of an Announced Death: Affiliation, Violence, and the Appropriation of Urban Space in Provincial Germany, 1934

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

On 25 March 1934 the Jewish population of the small town of Gunzenhausen in central Franconia experienced one of the first pogroms, in which two Jews lost their lives. The lecture reconstructs the spatial appropriation of this urban space and analyses the interdependence of space, violence, and collective belonging. In Gunzenhausen the spatial appropriation was extremely violent. The pogrom proved to be a revolutionary moment of commitment to a way of life that, although it had been following a racial concept of social order for some time, still had to reach agreement on binding forms of social exclusion and racial community-building.

Since 2000 the historian Ulrike Jureit has been a Research Fellow at the Hamburg Foundation for the Advancement of Research and Culture, associated with the Hamburg Institute for Social Research.

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10 December

Ulrich Herbert (University of Freiburg)
The Short and the Long Twentieth Century. German and European Perspectives

Gerda Henkel Visiting Professorship Lecture

Venue: German Historical Institute London

As seating is limited, pre-registration to attend required by emailing: abellamy(ghi)

The Gerda Henkel Visiting Professorship is a joint project of the GHIL and the International History Department of the LSE and is funded by the Gerda Henkel Foundation.