German Angst. Fear and Democracy in the Federal Republic of Germany
23 March 2021, 4-5.30 PM (ECT) (online)
Open to research master students, PhD candidates, postdocs and invited researchers
The Research School for Political History and the Duitsland Instituut Amsterdam invite you for a masterclass with Frank Biess (Professor of History at UC-San Diego). In this masterclass, we will survey new approaches to postwar history, informed by recent interdisciplinary insights generated by the field of emotion studies. Starting point for the discussion is the new book by Frank Biess (UC San Diego), German Angst. Fear and Democracy in the Federal Republic of Germany (OUP 2020).
In this book, Biess analyses how in West Germany, fear and anxiety both undermined democracy and stabilized it. By taking seriously postwar Germans’ uncertainties about the future, this study challenges dominant linear and teleological narratives of postwar West German ‘success’, while it also transcends the dichotomy of ‘reason’ and ’emotion’. Fear and anxiety were not exclusively irrational and dysfunctional, but sensitized postwar Germans to the dangers of an authoritarian transformation, and they also served as emotional engines of new social movements, including the environmental and peace movements. German Angst also provides an original analysis of the emotional basis of right-wing populism in Germany today, and it explores the possibilities of a democratic politics of emotion.
Frank Biess is Professor of History at the University of California-San Diego. He previously published Homecomings: Returning POWs and the Legacies of Defeat in Postwar Germany (Princeton UP, 2006) as well as a series of edited volumes and articles. A German version of German Angst was published in 2019 as Die Republik der Angst, Eine andere Geschichte der Bundesrepublik. His main research has focused on the post-1945 period with an emphasis on memory, emotions, gender, and political cultures. His new project explores the interwar Weimar Republic as a one of the first postcolonial states.
The master class is open to Research Master Students, PHDs, postdocs, and invited researchers. RMA and PhD students affiliated to RSPH and DIA have priority. RMA students who prepare a one-page written question based on the readings receive 1 credit. If you wish to do so, please contact the convenor Ido de Haan (email@example.com)
16.00 Introduction – Ido de Haan (UU)
16.05 Introduction to the theme of the masterclass – Frank Biess
16.25 Two PhD presentations followed by comments from Biess – Benjamin Hirschfeld (DIA/UvA), Annelotte Janse (RSPH/UU)
16.50 General discussion, based on questions from and to students
Participants need to register at firstname.lastname@example.org before March 18 2021 and will receive a link to the meeting.
Frank Biess, German Angst: Fear and Democracy in the Federal Republic of Germany (Oxford 2020) and the special issue New Narratives for the History of the Federal Republic of Germany, Central European History 52 (2019). Readings will be provided upon registration.
The Masterclass will be followed by the Amsterdam German Studies Lecture “New visions of German history” by Frank Biess (see below for more details).
Please note that you have to register with https://spui25.nl/ to be able to attend the lecture.
The Duitsland Instituut Amsterdam in collaboration with the Research School for Political History, the Goethe Institute Amsterdam and Spui25 announces the Amsterdam German Studies Lecture
“New visions of German history”
by Frank Biess (Professor of History at UC-San Diego)
23 March 2021, 6-7.15 PM (ECT) (online)
In a special issue of Central European History, Frank Biess, together with Astrid Eckert, pleads for new narratives for the history of the Federal Republic of Germany. Too often, German postwar history has been depicted as a success story of a country which eventually arrived in the fold of Western liberalism. Coming from the darkest decades, the Federal Republic developed into a stable democracy adhering Western values, attitudes and customs. Historians tend to describe German postwar society as ‘too good to be true’. Biess and Eckert stress the vulnerability of this discourse of Westernization. Uncertainty about the future of Western-style modernity makes it necessary to rethink the history of the Federal Republic and to question its success stories. How does pollution fit into the narrative of the economic miracle of the 1950s? What is the place of women in the gendered myth of 1968, often misleadingly explained as a clash between Nazi fathers and their antifascists sons? And how do immigrants relate to holocaust memory, or is holocaust memory used to exclude immigrants from German memory culture? The cesura of 1989-1990 underline the need for a new narrative which moves away from ill-defined concepts of Western modernity. The post-1989 period can no longer function as just an epilogue of the postwar years. In his lecture, Frank Biess will elaborate on the need for new syntheses of German postwar history.
Frank Biess is Professor of History at the University of California-San Diego. His main research has focused on the post-1945 period with an emphasis on memory, emotions, gender, and political cultures. He previously published Homecomings: Returning POWs and the Legacies of Defeat in Postwar Germany (Princeton UP, 2006) as well as a series of edited volumes and articles. He recently also edited the special issue ‘New Narratives for the History of the Federal Republic of Germany’, Central European History 52 (2019) A German version of German Angst was published in 2019 as Die Republik der Angst. Eine andere Geschichte der Bundesrepublik. His new project explores the interwar Weimar Republic as a one of the first postcolonial states.
18.00 Introduction and chair – Hanco Jürgens (DIA/UvA)
18.05 Frank Biess on new visions on German history
18.30 Comments Natalie Scholz (UvA), Jacco Pekelder (UU) and Moritz Föllmer (UvA)
18.50 General discussion
Open to general public.
Registration via https://spui25.nl