Performing Germanness: Laughter and Violence in Nazi Germany

Lecture | October 9 | 5-6:30 p.m. | 180 Doe Library

 Martina Kessel, Bielefeld University

 Institute of European Studies, GHI West - Pacific Regional Office of the German Historical Institute Washington DC, Center for German and European Studies, Gerda Henkel Stiftung

Martina Kessel looks at the meaning and role of humor as an identity practice in Germany during the time of National Socialism in Germany. One theory that she will explore in her lecture is that non-Jewish Germans disguised violence as 'art' to justify their failure to comply with international or humanitarian beliefs.

Martina Kessel is a Historian of Modern Germany at Bielefeld University, Germany, with particular interest in inclusion and exclusion, the history of violence, international relations, gender and cultural history. She has written on British and French policy towards Germany after 1945; a History of Boredom in the 19th century, and on questions of theory and historiography. Her forthcoming book is titled Gewalt und Gelächter. ‚Deutschsein‘ 1914-1945 (Laughter and Violence. ‘Being German’ 1914 – 1945).

This lecture is part of the Gerda Henkel Lecture Series, organized by GHI West, the Pacific Regional Office of the Germany Historical Institute, Washington DC, in cooperation with the Gerda Henkel Foundation. The program brings German historians to the West Coast where they present their research at up to four different universities with the goal to facilitate the general dialogue between German historians and their colleagues in the U.S. and Canadian west.

The Gerda Henkel Foundation was established in June 1976 by Lisa Maskell in memory of her mother Gerda Henkel as a private, non-profit grant making organization. The Foundation has its headquarters in Düsseldorf. The sole object of the Foundation is to promote science at universities and research institutes, primarily by supporting specific projects in the field of the humanities that have a specialist scope and are limited in time. A special concern of the Foundation is the advancement of postgraduates.

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