Lecturer in German history, University of Leeds

I studied Modern History, Politics, English and European Studies at Dresden, Newcastle, Strasbourg and Malmö. In 2005, I completed an MA in Politics and Modern History at the University of Dresden. In 2006, I completed an MSc in International History in the Department of International Politics at Aberystwyth, where I stayed as a research student. My PhD thesis on the 'Fischer controversy' was awarded the British International History Group Thesis Prize in 2012.

Before joining the German department in 2013, I taught in the School of History at Leeds (2011-2013) and at Aberystwyth (2011-2012).

My PhD thesis analysed the heated debate over the origins of the First World War in the 1960s. This debate was provoked by Fritz Fischer's book Germany's Aims in the First World War, published in 1961. Much of the literature on the controversy focussed on the historiographical and political repercussions of the debate and highlighted the almost revolutionary character of Fischer's arguments. My thesis, by contrast, studied the conditions which allowed the controversy to happen in the first place and which rendered a new historical interpretation plausible by the mid-1960s. Inspired by Foucault's conception of discourse and Bourdieu's notions of habitus, field and symbolic capital I considered that Fischer's ideas did not come from nowhere. In fact, I argue that they had already become 'sayable' and, to some extent, acceptable by the late 1950s and early 1960s. In this sense, the socalled 'Fischer controversy' reflected a deeper transformation of the norms and practices prevalent in the West German historical profession at the time. This transformation itself was an expression of underlying changes in West German society between the 1950s and the 1970s while at the same time being a key catalyst in reinforcing these changes. The thesis therefore situated the historiographical debate within the wider social and cultural settings that shape the writing of history.

Experience

  • –present
    Lecturer in German history, University of Leeds