WELCOME AY 2021/22!

Our first meeting of the year will take place on Thursday October 28, 2021 @ 10am. Unless otherwise noted, all meetings are in-person. If the public health situation  deteriorates, we may reschedule some events or move back to Zoom.

Here’s the full line-up:

October 28, 2021 @ 10-11:30a EST. Benjamin Hein, Assistant Professor of History, Brown University

November 11 & 12, 2021 @ 4pm EST. Kira Thurman, Assistant Professor of Germanic Languages & Literature, University of Michigan

December 2, 2021 @ Noon-1:30pm EST. Omer Bartov, John P. Birkelund Distinguished Professor of European History and Professor of German Studies. This event will be remote-accessible via Zoom.

February 24, 2022 @ 10-11:30a EST. Norman Frazier, PhD Candidate in Modern Europe, Brown University

March 17, 2022 @ 10-11:30a EST. Matthew Specter, Lecturer in History and Legal Studies and Senior Fellow at the Institute for European Studies, University of California Berkeley

March 28, 2022 @ 10-11:30a EST. Emma Griffin, Professor of Modern British History, University of East Anglia (UK)

April 20, 2022 @ 10-11:30a EST. Claudia Verhoeven, Associate Professor of History, Cornell University.

To join the conversation, get on the mailing list by emailing [email protected]. If you’ve got a work-in-progress and would like to workshop it, please don’t hesitate to reach! As you can see, we still have an open slot in December 2021.

See you all soon,

— behw

Queering the Newspaper Reader in the Golden Age of France’s Mass Press

March 25, 2021

BY Hannah Frydman, Postdoctoral Fellow at the Pembroke Center at Brown University

Frydman examines the rise of the mass press’s classifieds as a space for a wide array of non-normative sexual encounters (both remunerated and not) from the early 1890s until the First World War. In doing so, she considers media in this period as a site for queering the public itself—rather than for creating a marginalized queer counterpublic—and recast the interwar period, long considered as a moment of homosexual liberation, as one of stifling binarization that saw the rise of homosexual communities at the expense of more widespread queer possibilities.

The Matter of Flanders and Picardy: World War I and the Death of the Middle Ages

March 11, 2021

BY Leland Grigoli, PhD Candidate (Medieval History) at Brown University

Grigoli argues that popular neomedievalism and academic new medievalism are inextricably intertwined due to the circumstances of their creation during the First World War. This legacy has a profound importance for academic engagement with popular culture, particularly as it abuts the construction of race. 

Sea Traffic: A Clandestine History of Shipping, Exploitation, and Rebel Sailors Across Empires, 1920-1939

February 23, 2021

BY Minayo Nasiali, Associate Professor of History at UCLA

“Sea Traffic” examines the trans-imperial mobilities of colonial African sailors.  In the first half of the twentieth century, mariners from the East and West coasts of Africa did the hazardous work of shoveling coal and stoking fires in the engine-rooms of the steamships which transported the world’s people and goods. While their labor was essential to the global shipping industry their mobility was deeply mistrusted by the empires that claimed them—French and British. Colonial sailors’ movement across empires demands a new approach to doing imperial history. In the last thirty years, scholars of empire have adopted a Foucauldian framework to show how colonial subjects are implicated in systems of state power. This study asks two obvious but under-explored questions: What happens if colonial subjects opt-out of the surveillance network? And is such a choice possible? Colonial seafarers often used aliases—sailing under assumed names and using borrowed or stolen papers to work on ships flying diverse flags—which made them difficult to track. I argue that sailors’ trajectories were not bounded by a singular notion of empire understood as either French or British. Rather, their itineraries expose the permeability of colonial power. Tracing sailors’ journeys provides a counterpoint to the ways that scholarship and archives reproduce the idea that empires are contained spaces.

Spring ’21 Schedule

To join an event and get access to the pre-circulated papers, email [email protected]

  • Tuesday 2/23 @ noon-1:30pm EST. Minayo Nasiali, Associate Professor of History at UCLA, will share a work-in-progress essay titled “Sea Traffic: A Clandestine History of Shipping, Exploitation, and Rebel Sailors Across Empires, 1920-1939.”
  • Thursday 3/11 @ 10-11:30am EST. Leland Grigoli, PhD Candidate (Medieval History) at Brown University, will share a work-in-progress essay titled “The Matter of Flanders and Picardy: World War I and the Death of the Middle Ages.”
  • Thursday 3/25 @ 10-11:30am EST. Hannah Frydman, Postdoctoral Fellow at the Pembroke Center at Brown University, will share a work-in-progress essay titled “Queering the Newspaper Reader in the Golden Age of France’s Mass Press.” 
  • Thursday 4/15 @ 10-11:30am EST. Emma Griffin, Professor of Modern British History at the University of East Anglia, will give a talk on a her new book Bread Winner: An Intimate History of the Victorian Economy (Yale University Press). 

The Origins of Mitteleuropa. Liberalism and Economics between the German Empire and Austria-Hungary before the Great War

December 2, 2020

BY James Wang, PhD Candidate in History at Brown University

Mitteleuropa occupies a peculiar place in the history of modern Germany. The connotations of the term are problematically ambiguous, at once belying both a geographic area broader than just the zones of historically German settlement, while still remaining profoundly rooted in a uniquely German sense of identity. In this dissertation chapter, Wang disentangles for us the many intellectual genealogies of the idea of Mitteleuropa in the nineteenth century and its subsequent transformation in the course of WW1.

Unbinding German History, 1750s to the present

November 18, 2020

BY H. Glenn Penny, Professor of History at the University of Iowa

Professor Penny shared with us a chapter from his new manuscript titled: Unbinding German History, 1750s to the present (Cambridge UP). As is true of his other research, a central goal of this book is to bring European and Latin American historiographies into dialog, to re-spatialize our understanding of German history, and destabilize the prominent role of states in our historical narratives.

Penny’s work explores the relationships between Europeans and non-Europeans from the eighteenth century to the present. He has written extensively about Germans’ interactions with the Americas and other parts of the world, and his three award-winning books were all key to inaugurating a ‘global turn’ in German and, more broadly, European history: Objects of Culture: Ethnology and Ethnographic Museums in Imperial Germany (Chapel Hill, 2003), Kindred by Choice: Germans and American Indians since 1800 (Chapel Hill, 2013), In Humboldt’s Shadow: A Tragic History of German Ethnology (Munich: C.H. Beck, 2019). 

How A Place Moves: Bratsk, 1922-1993

November 5, 2020

BY Jenny Lhamo Tsundu, PhD Candidate in History, Brown University

Aristotle claimed that a place was “the innermost motionless boundary of what contains” (Physics, IV, 4). But in the middle of the twentieth century, amidst dense Siberian taiga, a place called Bratsk did indeed move — to higher ground — as a result of hydroelectric development along the Angara river. On September 1, 1961, the new city of Bratsk replaced its rural namesake, which now lay at the bottom of a man-made water reservoir. This first chapter draft explores the seven years before this flooding, during which two Bratsks emerged into view and existed alongside (and in tension with) each other.

Visualizing the Holocaust

October 15, 2020

BY Anne Kelly Knowles, McBride Prof. of History, The University of Maine

The Holocaust was an intensely geographical event that affected people and places across Europe and beyond. This lecture will present dynamic, creative maps and other visualizations from the Holocaust Geographies Collaborative, whose interdisciplinary work has helped inspire the “spatial turn” in Holocaust Studies. These visualizations of data about the SS camps system, ghettos in Eastern Europe, and what the Nazis’ victims endured suggest the range of analytical and expressive approaches possible for other complex historical phenomena.

Graphic rendering of the universe of SS concentration and labor camps by Erik B. Steiner, reproduced from Anne Kelly Knowles, et al., “Mapping the SS Camps,” in Knowles, et al., eds., Geographies of the Holocaust (Indiana University Press 2014).

A historical geographer by training, Anne Kelly Knowles is interested in the intersections between economy, technology, and culture and their expression in the landscape. She is the author of numerous articles and books, including Calvinists Incorporated: Welsh Immigrants on Ohio’s Industrial Frontier (Chicago UP, 1997), Past Time, Past Place: GIS for History (ESRI, 2002), and Mastering Iron: The Struggle to Modernize an American Industry, 1800-1868 (Chicago UP, 2013). More recently she co-edited Geographies of the Holocaust (Indiana UP, 2014), which uses GIS and cartography to visualize the many scales at which the Holocaust was implemented by the Nazis and their allies. The study won a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2015. As a pioneer in the use of historical GIS and the digital humanities, Knowles co-founded the Holocaust Geographies Collaborative, a group of historians and geographers across the US interested in exploring how geovisualization can expand our understanding of the Holocaust.

Violent Skies: Mapping the History of Weather Modification

September 23, 2020

BY Luca Scholz, Lecturer in Digital Humanities, The University of Manchester

In eighteenth and nineteenth-century Europe, hailstorms and other severe weather events posed an existential danger. Rural communities devised varied strategies to dispel storm clouds and defend their crops. Shooting the clouds with cannons and rifles was believed to be a particularly effective solution. However, the practice engendered heated debates among scholars, officials, and neighboring communities that accused each other of making things worse by “irritating” the clouds and sending storms their way. This talk will discuss how combining printed and manuscript sources with meteorological and climate data can allow us to understand the spatial dimension of past efforts at atmospheric intervention.

Luca Scholz is a scholar of European and digital history whose work combines social, legal and intellectual history with geospatial and computational methods. Luca holds a PhD in History from the European University Institute, a joint MA in History from the École des hautes études en sciences sociales in Paris and the University of Heidelberg, as well as BA in Economics from the latter university. His first book, “Borders and Freedom of Movement in the Holy Roman Empire”, was recently published with Oxford University Press. After holding a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at Stanford University from 2016 to 2019, he is now Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Digital Humanities at the University of Manchester (UK).