Assistant Professor

of German History and the College


PhD 2015 University of California, Berkeley
MSI 2008 University of Michigan
AB 2004 Bryn Mawr College


Social Science Research Building, room 509 — Office
(773) 834-3763
(773) 702-7550 — Fax
agoff@uchicago.edu


Mailing Address

The University of Chicago
Department of History
1126 E. 59th Street, Mailbox TBD
Chicago, IL 60637


Field Specialities

Nineteenth-century German cultural and intellectual history; Vormärz Prussia; history of museums, collections, and material culture; art and politics


Biography

I am a historian of German cultural and intellectual life in the modern period, with a particular focus on the nineteenth century. My research and teaching center on the history of art and politics, museums, cultural preservation, and the history of the humanities in German states and in the relationship between Germany and the world.

I am currently at work on a manuscript with the working title, "The God Behind the Marble: Transcendence and the Art Object in the German Aesthetic State, 1794–1848." The book tells the story of artworks caught up in the looting, iconoclasm, and shifting boundaries of German states during the French Revolution and Napoleonic wars and the consequences of these upheavals for German political, religious, and intellectual practice at the beginning of the nineteenth century. By examining the shifting fortunes of private collections, public museums, and church treasuries, this work examines the frictions that arose between the precarious fates of artworks on the ground and the assertions of art's ideal autonomy in philosophy and criticism.

I have also begun research on a related project that takes up the historical legacy of the German monarchies in the German Democratic Republic. I am focused in particular on the preservation of the royal collections of the Saxon kings in Dresden after 1945 and the enrollment of this heritage into the cultural political programs of the east German state through the postwar period.

I received my PhD in history from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2015. From 2015 to 2017 I was a postdoctoral fellow in the University of Michigan's Society of Fellows in the departments of History and Germanic Languages and Literatures. Before beginning graduate work in history, I completed a master's degree in archives and records management and a certificate in museum studies, and I maintain an active interest in contemporary archival and curatorial practice. My work has been supported by the Council for Library and Information Resources, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the German Historical Institute, and the Mabelle McLeod Lewis Foundation.


Publications

"The Honor of the Trophy: A Prussian Bronze in the Napoleonic Era." In The Things They Carried: War, Mobility, and Material Culture, ed. Leora Auslander and Tara Zahra. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, forthcoming, 2017.

"The Selbst Gewählter Plan: The Schildbach Wood Library in Eighteenth-Century Hessen-Kassel." Representations 128, No. 1 (Fall 2014): 30-59.