The Department of History offers a vital and innovative course of study in Modern European history, a field which has been at the center of teaching and research at University of Illinois for over one hundred years. 

apartmentThe program emphasizes comparative and interdisciplinary perspectives in addition to national area studies. Traditional strengths in British, German, and French history are complemented by research approaches that examine collective identities such as class, nation, and gender, collective memory, the organization of power and categories of culture, the formation of intellectual life, the uses of violence, the contours of everyday life and private life, colonial and postcolonial interactions, and the politics of representation. Recent courses focused on comparative topics: "Cities," "Memory and History," "History and Postcolonial Studies," "Europeans and Nature, 1750-1900," and "European Travellers in North America." 

Graduate students are encouraged to ground themselves in historical theory and methods, to gain teaching experience as assistants, and to undertake field research. Close collaboration binds modern Europeanists with their counterparts in allied  fields such as Russian history, East European history, British and Empire history, and Early Modern history as well as disciplines such as anthropology and comparative literature.  Students typically travel to Europe to pursue predissertation research at the end of their second year and formulate dissertation topics and apply for dissertation research grants in their third year. In the last years, graduate students at Illinois have regularly received predissertation grants from the Council for European Studies and dissertation grants from the Social Science Research Council and the German Academic Exchange Service.

Core faculty

Antoinette Burton: (PhD. Chicago, 1990) Professor Burton specializes in the history of the British empire in global perspective, with an emphasis on women, gender, sexuality, mobility and post/colonial India. Her latest monograph is The Postcolonial Careers of Santha Rama Rau (Duke 2007). Forthcoming are Brown over Black: Race and the Politics of Postcolonial Citation (Three Essays Collective, Delhi) and, with Tony Ballantyne, Empires and Imperial Encounters, 1875-1955 ( Harvard University Press). Her current research interests range from Cold War Afro-Asian histories to insurgencies in the Victorian empire.  Recent publications include Moving Subjects: Gender, Mobility and Intimacy  in an Age of Empire (with Tony Ballantyne, 2009) and "The Pain of Racism in the Making of a 'Coolie Doctor'" (Interventions 13, 2 [2011]. In 2012 Duke University Press will publish her Primer for Teaching World History: 10 Design Principles.

Tamara Chaplin: (PhD. Rutgers, 2002) Tamara Chaplin specializes in the cultural and intellectual history of modern France, the history of sexuality, human rights and the media. Her first book, Turning On the Mind: French Philosophers on Television (University of Chicago Press, 2007), argues that the history of the televising of philosophy in France is crucial to understanding the struggle over French national identity in the postwar period.  Dr. Chaplin is interested in the influence of mass media and globalization on the construction of national identities, on the links between high and popular culture, and on the relationship between intellectuals, public education and the social institution of moral values.  New projects (on human rights and the media and on the history of sexuality in postwar France) extend these interests to new domains.  Dr. Chaplin teaches survey and special topics courses at the graduate and undergraduate levels on modern Europe, France, sexuality, the body, human rights, intellectuals, media, twentieth century revolutions, cinema and popular culture.  Her courses reflect her commitment to the historical analysis of multiple media forms and often employ sources from film, music, art and television. A former professional ballet dancer, trained actor, and member of both the Screen Actor’s Guild and Canadian Actor’s Equity, Professor Chaplin received her doctorate in Modern European History from Rutgers University in 2002. 

Peter Fritzsche: (PhD. California-Berkeley, 1986) A specialist in modern German history and a former Guggenheim and Humboldt fellow, Professor Fritzsche's current research focuses on comparative questions of memory and identity and vernacular uses of the past in modern Europe. His most recent book is Life and Death in the Third Reich (2008); his other publications include Rehearsals for Fascism: Populism and Political Mobilization in Weimar Germany (1990); A Nation of Fliers: German Aviation and the Popular Imagination (1992); Reading Berlin 1900 (1996); Germans into Nazis (1998); and Stranded in the Present: Modern Time and the Melancholy of History (2004). With Charles C. Stewart, he edited Imagining the Twentieth Century (1997). 

Harry Liebersohn: (Emeritus:  PhD. Princeton, 1979) An intellectual historian of modern Europe (especially Germany), Professor Liebersohn is especially interested in the transnational contexts modern art and thought.   His two most recent books are The Travelers’ World: Europe to the Pacific (2006) and Aristocratic Encounters: European Travelers and North American Indians (1998).  His article, "Discovering Indigenous Nobility: Tocqueville, Chamisso, and Romantic Travel Writing” (awarded the 1995 Koren Prize of the Society for French Historical Studies) appeared in the June 1994 issue of The American Historical Review.  Professor Liebersohn has been a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton) and the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin.   

Mark Micale: (Emeritus:  PhD.Yale, 1987) Emeritus. Professor Micale is a specialist in modern European cultural and intellectual history, with an emphasis on fin-de-siècle France, and in the history of science and medicine, especially psychiatry. Micale is the author of Hysterical Men:  The Hidden History of Male Nervous Illness (2008) and Approaching Hysteria: Disease and its Interpretations (1995), as well as editor of Beyond the Unconscious (1994), Discovering the History of Psychiatry (1996),  Enlightenment, Passion, Modernity:  Historical Essays in European Thought and Culture (2000), Traumatic Pasts:  History, Psychiatry, and Trauma in the Modern Age,1870-1930 (2001), and The Mind of Modernism (2004).  He has a number of scholarly projects in the works, including a volume on the intertwined histories of medicine and masculinity.


Other faculty with expertise in Modern European studies include:

  • Eugene Avrutin (Department of History: Jewish History, emphasis Russia)
  • Clare Crowston (Department of History: France, comparative gender) 
  • Craig Koslofsky (Department of History: early modern Germany, Renaissance,  Reformation) 
  • Dana Rabin (Department of History: Early modern Britain, legal, cultural, and gender history
  • John Randolph (Department of History: Russia, Europe since 1789, Cultural and Intellectual History
  • Carol Skalnik Leff (Department of Political Science: comparative politics) 
  • Jean-Philippe Mathy (Department of French: cultural studies, intellectual life) 
  • David Sepkoski (Department of History: history of science; cultural, intellectual, and political dimensions of science)
  • Carol Symes (Department of History: medievalism, modernity, nationalism)
  • Verena Hoefig (Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures): medievalism, nationalism, gender studies, post-humanism and animal studies

Dissertations Completed in Modern European history since 1990: 

  • Katherine Aaslestad,  "The Transformation of Civic Identity and Local Patriotism in Hamurg, 1790-1815," Ph.D. 1997 (DAAD) 
  • David Bielanski, "Frontline Weimar: Paramilitary Mobilization and Masculine Representation in Postwar Germany", Ph.D. 2002 (DAAD)
  • Amanda Brian, "Growing Children: The Child's Body and the German Empire, 1871-1918," Ph.D 2009 (Fulbright-Hayes)
  • Everett Carter, "King, Queen, Knave: Gambling and Social Herarchy in Nineteenth Century Germany," Ph.D. 2002
  • Andrew Demshuk, "The Lost East Silesian Expelles in West Germany and the Fantasy of Return, 1945-1970," PhD 2010 (DDA,FLAS)
  • Alex d'Erizans, "The Strangeness of Home: German Search for Identity amidst Trauma and Catastrophe in Hannover, 1945-1949," Ph.D 2006 (DAAD)
  • Sace Elder, "Murder Scenes: Criminal Violence in the Public Culture and Private Lives of Weimar Berlin," Ph.D. 2002 (DAAD, SSRC/Berlin) 
  • Bryan Ganaway, "Miniature Technologies: Toys and the Simulation of Nation, Gender, and Self in Wilhelmine Germany," Ph.D. 2002 (DAAD, Fulbright)
  • Jason Hansen, "Where Lies Germany: Science and the Visualization of the German Nation," 1848-1914, PhD 2010
  • Jonathan Huener, "German Deeds, Polish Soil, Jewish Shoah: Auschwitz Memory  and the Politics of Commemoration," Ph.D 1997 (DAAD, SSRC/Berlin,  
  • Victor Libet, "Building the Border:  The Treatment of Immigrants in France, 1884-1914," Ph.D. 1998 (Chateaubriand, DAAD) 
  • Brent Maner, "The Search for Buried Nation: Prehistoric Archaeology in Germany, 1780-1890," Ph.D. 2001 (CES, SSRC/Berlin) 
  • Michele May, "The Republic and Its Children: French Children's Literature, 1855-1900," Phd 2010
  • Elise Moentmann, "Conservative Modernism at the 1937 International Exposition in Paris," Ph.D 1998
  • Will Morris, "Gegenwartsbewältigung: Drugs, Users, and the Making of Postwar West Germany, 1968-1983," Ph.D 2008 (DAAD)
  • David Murphy, "The Heroic Earth: The Flowering of Geopolitical Thought in  Weimar Germany," Ph.D 1992 (DAAD, SSRC/Berlin) 
  • H. Glenn Penny, "Cosmopolitan Visions and Municipal Displays: Museums, Markets, and the Ethnographic Project in Germany, 1868-1914," Ph.D 1998 (CES,DAAD, SSRC/Berlin, Institut fuer europaeische Geschichte) 
  • Joseph Perry, "The Private Life of the Nation: Christmas and the Invention of Modern Germany," PhD 1999 (CES, DAAD)
  • Thilo Schimmel, "Shop Floor Politics Under Socialism: Worker Identity, Rationalization, and Company Culture in (East) Germany, 1920-1996," Ph.D 2008 (UIUC research fellowship)
  • Jeffrey Smith, "A People's War: The Transformation of German Politics, 1913-1918," Ph.D 1996 (DAAD)
  • Jason Tebbe, "Rituals of Memory: The Construction of Family in Wilhelmine Germany," Ph.D 2006 (UIUC Research Fellowship)
  • Molly Wilkinson, "Sports, Mass Mobilization, and the Everyday Culture of Socialism in East Germany in the 1950s," Ph.D. 2003 (CES, DAAD, SSRC/Berlin)
  • Kristen Ehrenberger, "The Politics of The Table:  Nutrition and The Telescopic Body in Saxon Germany, 1890-1935," Ph.D 2014
  • Tyler Carrington, "Love in The Big City:  Intimacy, Marriage, and Risk in Turn-Of-The-Century Berlin," Ph.D 2014

Dissertations in progress 

  • Jeff Hayton, "Punk Rock and the Crisis of Authenticity in Post-1968 Germany," in progress (SSRCH, DAAD)