Associate Professor of German and History & Director of the Center for German Studies; Director of German Undergraduate Programs.
German Cultural Studies and History, Weimar Republic, History and Theory of Democracy; Sustainability Studies

New Cabell Hall, Room 233

Office Hours: 

Mondays, 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. and by appointment.  New Cabell Hall, Room 233

Ph.D. University of Michigan, 2005
M.A. University of Michigan, 1996
M.A. Free University of Berlin, 1996
Research Interests/Description: 

My research combines the historical study of German culture with theoretical analyses. I organized a thematic issue for Central European History on the politics of culture/culture of politics in Weimar Germany and am currently completing my manuscript, Invisible Fatherland: Democratic Culture in Weimar Germany. The book revisits a major paradigm of Weimar historiography: the assumption that Weimar democracy lacked the symbolic appeal necessary to win popular support and thus was doomed to collapse. My study challenges this assumption of doom – or “failure paradigm” – by reconsidering the symbolic politics and defining moments of the nascent Weimar democracy. The shift in perspective from failure to possibility allows me to recover a largely forgotten, legally coded civic mode of national identification that transcended homogenizing notions of class, religion or race, thus offering a pluralist alternative to the extremist politics the interwar years also engendered. My second research interest revolves around the idiom and culture of sustainability or Nachhaltigkeit. In the United States we sometimes struggle to imagine what it takes to become a more sustainable society. Germany is widely regarded as a frontrunner in environmental policy and practice. I am in the process of putting together an edited volume that explores and contextualizes these policies and practices, with the aim to engender a fruitful transatlantic discussion as to which of these interventions are transferable to the United States. The initial lecture series that produced this body of work was connected to Generation Green, a pilot undergraduate course cross-listed in the Department of Science, Technology & Society (School of Engineering) and the German Department (College of Arts and Sciences). The resulting book targets a broad audience of interested, non-specialist readers, and could serve as undergrad textbook for classes in sustainability, as well as for German and European studies courses. The manuscript is scheduled to be submitted to Palgrave Macmillan by the end of 2011. My own contribution examines German representations and perceptions of nuclear energy. I expect to develop this exploratory essay into a book-length historical study of the German culture of sustainability.


"Anchoring the Nation in the Democratic Form: Weimar Symbolic Politics beyond the Failure Paradigm”, in: German Modernities from Wilhelm to Weimar: A Contest of Futures, ed. Geoff Eley, Jennifer Jenkins, Tracie Matysik; Bloomsbury 2016.

"Nuclear Power? No, Thank You!" Germany's Energy Revolution Post-Fukushima," in: Achilles (ed.), Environmental Sustainability in Transatlantic Perspective (Palgrave Macmillan 2013).

"The Economy Under the Nazis: Keynesianism Avant la Lettre?", 2013, Darden Business Publishing, UVA-GEM 112 (with Peter Debaere)

"With a Passion for Reason: Celebrating the Constitution in Weimar Germany," Central European History, Volume 43, Number 4 (December 2010), pp. 666-689.

“Reforming the Reich: Democratic Symbols and Rituals in the Weimar Republic,” in Weimar Publics/Weimar Subjects: Rethinking the Political Culture of Germany in the 1920s, ed. Kerstin Barndt and Kathleen Canning, Berghahn Books, July 2010, pp. 175-191.

“Nationalist Violence and Republican Identity in Weimar Germany,” in German Literature, History and the Nation, ed. David Midgley and Christian Emden, Oxford: Peter Lang, 2004, pp. 305-328.

“‘Blutdurst’ und ‘Symbolhunger’: Zur Semantik von Blut und Erde,” in Spielräume des Einzelnen: Deutsche Literatur in der Weimarer Republik und im Dritten Reich, ed. Walter Delabar, Horst Denkler, Erhard Schütz, Berlin: Weidler Buchverlag, 2000, pp. 185-315.

Book Reviews: 

Review of Benjamin Ziemann, Contested Commemorations. Republican War Veterans and Weimar Political Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2013), European History Quarterly, 46:1 (2016), 203-204.

Review of Shulamit Volkov: Walther Rathenau. Weimar's Fallen Statesman (New Haven: Yale UP, 2012); German History, first published online: March 3, 2015.

Review of Mark Edmundson, The Death of Sigmund Freud: The Legacy of His Last Days (New York: Bloomsbury, 2007), published on H-German (August 2011).

Review of Christian Emden, Walter Benjamins Archäologie der Moderne: Kulturwissenschaft um 1930 (Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 2006), published on H-German (October 2007).

Review of Pamela E. Swett, Neighbors and Enemies: The Culture of Radicalism in Berlin,1929- 1933 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), Social History 31:4 (2006), 497-499.

Review of Laurence A. Rickel’s Nazi Psychoanalysis (Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 2002, published on H-German (March 2004).

Teaching Interests: 

Teaching is an enjoyable and rewarding component of my academic work. Neighbors and Enemies, one of my signature courses, explores the tension in Germany between a chauvinist belief in German racial or cultural superiority and moments of genuine openness to strangers. Drawing on a variety of different materials – from history and philosophy to film and literature – this course challenges students to consider the construction and deconstruction of images of the “enemy” from different angles.  My seminars on German and Jews, History and Fiction, and Germany and the Environment also practice the careful interdisciplinarity that characterizes this course. My survey lecture courses include Modern German History, Nazi Germany, and Western Civilization.
Working within a multi-disciplinary environment is central to both my scholarship and pedagogy. I helped launch UVa’s Center for German Studies in Fall 2008, am serving on its Advisory Board, and was appointed its Program Director in Spring 2009 (since 2011 Associate Director). I have been involved in the Center’s activities both as organizer and presenter. Examples include the German Studies workshop Weimar and Beyond (Nov. 2008), the international conference Approaching Revolutions (March 2010), and the multi-disciplinary symposium The Future of the Car/The Car of the Future, which took place on Nov. 5-6 in conjunction with UVa’s Family weekend. Bringing together many UVa schools, programs and outside expertise, the symposium explored conceptions of a more sustainable society by focusing on one of its central everyday objects (the automobile). Speakers included bestselling authors Jeremy Rifkin, Daniel Sperling and Debbie Gordon, car company executives Chris Borroni-Bird (GM) and Burkhard Hunke (VW), battery expert Michelle Buchanan from the Oakridge National Laboratory, and German cultural historian Wolfgang Schivelbusch.

Representative Courses: 

Recent Courses

  • Germany after 1918
  • Germany in the 20th Century
  • Democracy and Violence
  • Nazi Germany (crosslisted in German and History)
  • Hitler in History and Fiction (cross listed in German and History)
  • Neighbors and Enemies (cross-listed in German and History)
  • Germans and Jews (cross-listed in History and Jewish Studies)
  • Postwar German Literature and Culture (cross-listed in German and History)
  • Generation Green: Germany and the Environment (cross-listed in German; and Science, Technology and Society)
  • Topics in Business German: Umwelt und Energie
  • German for Professionals
  • German Crime Stories (Deutsche Krimis)
  • German Conversation
  • Western Civilization (1600 to the Present)

German Environmentalism in Transatlantic Perspective: A Multidisciplinary Approach, edited volume, Palgrave Macmillan 2013 (Climate and Energy series), with Dana Elzey.

Invisible Fatherland: Constitutional Patriotism and the Desire for Democracy in Weimar Germany – book manuscript (in progress).