German History in a Fractious World

April 6-7, 2019
Second Annual West Coast Germanists' Workshop at University of Southern California
Organizing Committee: Elizabeth Drummond (LMU), Stefan-Ludwig Hoffmann (UC Berkeley), Paul Lerner (USC), Andrea Westermann (GHI West), Heike Friedman (GHI West)

The inaugural meeting of the West Coast Germanists’ Workshop took place in March 2018 at UC Davis and we are pleased to announce the second meeting, which has been scheduled for April 6-7 at the University of Southern California. These events, made possible by the generous support of GHI West, the Pacific Regional Office of the German Historical Institute Washington DC, aim to provide a forum for discussing key methodological and historiographic issues in the field today for graduate students and faculty in German history and the historical humanities. They respond to the predicament of Germanists in the West, indeed our unique geographic challenges – our distance from Europe and from each other – and also the particular opportunities and possibilities for doing German history and German studies in places with abundant resources from mid twentieth-century German émigrés and thriving German expat communities in the arts, business, and technology. We also consider the potential benefits of our more distant gaze and the intellectual stimulation of seeing Germany and Europe from perhaps a more global, Pacific orientation.

This year’s theme, the place of German History in a Fractious World, invites reflection on two growing trends in the world today, globalization and the rise of authoritarian and nationalistic movements and regimes. How do these tendencies inspire and challenge us in our work as German historians? Do German historians and German studies scholars have a particular responsibility to engage with the return of racialist and nationalist politics? What is the future of German history – indeed any national history – in an increasingly transnational profession? We ask participants to reflect on these and other questions from the perspective of their research. In other words, rather than discussing these issues generally, we want to see how these topics play themselves out in specific research agendas, and how they affect the framing and presentation of projects and the methodological choices we all make.

We thus invite proposals for (5-10 pp) papers on this theme. We especially encourage proposals from graduate students, postdocs and junior faculty in the Western United States and Western Provinces of Canada. Interested participants should use our online portal to pre-register for the workshop by January 15, 2019. Individuals interested in presenting a paper at the workshops should also include a one-paragraph proposal and a brief CV. Please contact Heike Friedman (friedman@ghi-dc.org) if you have problems with submitting your information online. Papers will be pre-circulated in advance of the meeting and should be made available by 8 March. Thanks to the support of the GHI West and the Max Kade Institute for Austrian-German-Swiss Studies at USC, we will be able to subsidize participation in this workshop for paper presenters.