I am a historian of 20th-century Europe and Germany interested in intersections of intellectual history and the history of political culture. My primary focus is on ideas and practices of democracy after WWII, especially in moments when debate and experimentation intensified (e.g., around 1945, 1956, 1968, 1989). I also have long-standing interests in memory and representation, in social and political thought, and in historical methods. My teaching ranges from surveys of the European Union and 20th-century Europe to upper-level topical courses to a graduate seminar on social theory and historiography.
I recently completed a book that examines the rethinking of democracy in postwar, post-Nazi Germany. Its focus is a loose, ideologically plural network of public intellectuals and the distinctively German, fundamentally participatory vision of democratic renewal they formulated in the immediate postwar years. Paradoxically, this project emerged among intellectual elites but sought to revise the conventional elitisms of modern politics. It ran aground on its own internal tensions and on the upsurging Cold War, but it infused undercurrents of dissent that helped shape subsequent decades.
My second project builds on the first to explore the emergence and activities of Europe’s “first New Left” from the mid-1950s. Around that time, diverse groups of intellectuals gathered to express their rejection of the Cold War world and revitalize socialism in a “humanist” vein. What made similar ideas plausible at the same time but in disparate places, across Western and Eastern Europe? What role did trans-local and cross-border contacts play? In approaching such questions, I aim to sound out an intellectual history that avoids the double pitfalls of free-floating idealism and sociological reductionism.
I joined the faculty at MSU in 2007, after receiving my Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. Previously, I taught at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. My research has received support from sources including the US Department of Education, DAAD, Fulbright Foundation, Humboldt Foundation, and SSRC Berlin Program. In 2012/13, I am in residence at Berlin’s Humboldt University with funding from the Volkswagen and Mellon Foundations.
Europe’s “First New Left” and the Subterranean History of the Cold War
Elites for Democracy: German Intellectuals and Political-Cultural Renewal after 1945 (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming)
“Reconsidering the ‘Unpolitical German’: Democratic Renewal and the Politics of Culture in Occupied Germany.” German History (forthcoming).
“The Promise of Publicness: Intellectual Elites and Participatory Politics in Postwar Heidelberg.” Modern Intellectual History 9, no. 3 (2012): 641-60.
“‘Deutscher Geist’ und demokratische Erneuerung: Kulturbünde in Ost und West nach 1945.” In Rückblickend in die Zukunft: Politische Öffentlichkeit und intellektuelle Positionen in Deutschland um 1950 und um 1930, ed. Alexander Gallus and Axel Schildt, 221-37. Göttingen: Wallstein, 2011.
“Für eine demokratische Erneuerung Deutschlands: Kommunikationsprozesse und Deutungsmuster engagierter Demokraten nach 1945.” Geschichte und Gesellschaft 33, no. 2 (2007): 228-57.
“‘Das Sprachrohr keiner Besatzungsmacht oder Partei’: Deutsche Publizisten, die Vereinigten Staaten und die demokratische Erneuerung in Westdeutschland, 1945-1949.” In Demokratiewunder: Transatlantische Mittler und die kulturelle Öffnung Westdeutschlands, 1945-1970, ed. Arnd Bauerkämper, Konrad H. Jarausch and Marcus M. Payk, 159-89. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2005.
“War Commemoration and the Republic in Crisis: Weimar Germany and the Neue Wache.” Central European History 35, no. 4 (2002): 513-49.
Democracy and Europe’s 20th Century: Cultural and Intellectual Histories: An International Workshop at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, May 10-11, 2013 (program)
Recent and Upcoming Courses
IAH 221C. The Modern World: Inventing and Imagining Society
HST 110. European Union: History of an Ongoing Project
HST 201. Historical Methods and Skills: Weimar Germany
HST 336. Twentieth-Century Europe
HST 338. Power, Culture, and Thought in Europe: The Modern Era
HST 452. The First World War
HST 483. Seminar: Intellectuals and Politics in 20th-Century Europe
HST 850. Seminar: Historiography and Social Theory