The first book in the series I am copy-editing (and more), Worlds of Consumption, is now available. Decoding Modern Consumer Societies, edited by Hartmut Berghoff and Uwe Spiekermann (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), offers an introduction to and stocktaking of the relatively young field of consumption history.
Since I have a vested interest in the project, I won’t try to convince you that it is the best thing since sliced bread, but I will say that I have learned a lot and that I am firmly convinced of the value of consumption history. Indeed, I have included consumption history in my last two courses, Belinda J. Davis, Home Fires Burning: Food, Politics, and Everyday Life in World War I Berlin (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2000) for my graduate course on war and society and Uta G. Poiger, Jazz, Rock, and Rebels: Cold War Politics and American Culture in a Divided Germany (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000) for my modern Germany course for undergraduates.
For more information about the German Historical Institute’s new book series, Worlds of Consumption, please view the linked PDF file on Dropbox, which includes tables of contents for Decoding Modern Consumer Societies as well as for two volumes that will appear later this year, The Development of Consumer Credit in Global Perspective: Business, Regulation, and Culture, edited by Jan Logemann, and The Rise of Marketing and Market Research, edited by Hartmut Berghoff, Philip Scranton, and Uwe Spiekermann.
Clio and me have been getting along pretty well lately, but you wouldn’t know it from this neglected blog. Much of my silence has had to do with the nature of my editing job. I edit a lot of interesting work that teaches me new things and occasionally leads me to related ideas of my own, but I’m not usually free to talk about those things. Either the material is not in print yet, or I’d betray the trust of authors with whom I have spoken in confidence about work in progress. Describing the things I’m learning about this side of academia and publishing would also make interesting blogging, but writing about them would mean injuring both confidentiality and collegiality, no matter how good a face I put on any given story. So I’m generally quiet here, unless I can comment on how the history I’m learning might be relevant in work outside the institute.
On the other hand, the small graduate course I taught this summer, War and Society in Modern Europe, gave me a chance to think more about my earlier research and how I might do something with it in the future. I’m planning to take the spring 2012 semester off from part-time teaching, so that I can do a little writing. It’s time to start thinking about the Groener project again. In particular, I want to move past the inevitably narrower set of specialized questions that have framed it to consider in what ways some of it might be relevant to a broader academic audience.
Meanwhile, I’m wondering if I should do some of that thinking on this blog. I began this blog after I had already completed my dissertation, and I have never much used it as a research blog. I’m wondering what the advantages and disadvantages of such might be. I am concerned mainly with thought, research, and communication; however, I don’t have to worry about a non-existent tenure-track position. The main advantage, it seems to me, is that it would afford a chance to discuss ideas in their nascency that I otherwise have little opportunity to talk about, unless I am teaching a related graduate course, which has only happened once so far. Sure, I work at a historical institute, but my (interesting) job there is to work with others on their ideas.
I’m thinking about this in the context of other changing habits. I have also been neglecting my other blog, Language for You, and there’s that whole twitter thing. Perhaps it’s time to conceptualize a single blog that would work for my current portfolio of jobs and projects?
If you are taking a course with me this summer or fall, look for it on Blackboard 9, which you can access by logging into
and choosing the courses tab.
I’m teaching modern Germany again this fall. Based on my experience last fall, I have decided not to go with Frank B. Tipton’s Modern Germany as a textbook. As much as I liked its affordability, breadth, and depth, it proved too much for the uninitiated in German history. This sentiment seems to have been nearly universal in the class, no matter how much effort students put into the class or what grade they earned. This semester I’m going with Mary Fulbrook’s Concise History of Germany. That might seem like a drastic swing in the other direction, but I have thought more about what I need a textbook to do: offer a basic narrative and highlight a limited number of key themes. The rest can be covered through other books, online readings, and class discussions. This is not a perfect solution, but it will give me much more flexibility in the classroom. I also think it will help make German history more accessible to my students. And Fulbrook’s narrative is by no means dumbed down. It’s just short.
Here’s the complete list of the required books:
- Mary Fulbrook, A Concise History of Germany, Second Edition, Cambridge UP, 2004 [ISBN-13: 9780521540711]
- Alfred Kelly, ed., The German Worker: Working-Class Autobiographies from the Age of Industrialization, U of California P, 1987 [ISBN-13: 9780520061248]
- Roger Chickering, Imperial Germany and the Great War, 1914–1918, Second Edition, Cambridge UP, 2004 [ISBN-13: 9780521547802]
- Detlev J. K. Peukert, The Weimar Republic, Hill & Wang, 1993
- Robert G. Moeller, The Nazi State and German Society: A Brief History with Documents, Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2009 [ISBN-13: 9780312454685]
- Uta G. Poiger, Jazz, Rock, and Rebels: Cold War Politics and American Culture in a Divided Germany, U of California P, 2000[ISBN-13: 9780520211391]
The emphasis of the books is strongly twentieth-century, although the sources in Alfred Kelly’s book also include much from the nineteenth century. We will fill in gaps for the nineteenth and twentieth centuries with the overviews and primary sources offered in the excellent online German History in Documents and Images.
Finally, here’s the course description:
This course will explore social, economic, cultural, and political developments in Germany from the end of the eighteenth century to the beginning of the twenty-first. Topics to consider include the dual revolutions of the nineteenth century, industrial and political, and their accompanying social and cultural effects; the creation of a German nation-state from a loose collection of independent kingdoms, principalities, and city-states; developments in war and society that led not only to the creation of a German nation-state in 1871, but also to the two World Wars that ended in Germany’s division and the Cold War; the integration of West Germany into NATO and the European Union, on the one hand, and East Germany into the Warsaw Pact and Soviet economic structures, on the other hand; and, finally, reunification of the capitalist West and communist East within the context of Western economic, political, and security frameworks. The World Wars and Holocaust pose central challenges for us as we consider the shifting nature of Germany as both an idea and a state over the past two centuries; however, we will consider other lines of development in modern German history as well.