Modern Europe

The history of Europe from the eighteenth century to the present forms a vast canvas amenable to study from myriad perspectives. Collectively, the modern European history faculty offers a generous sampling of those perspectives. We encourage students to cast their nets widely with the ultimate goal of defining their own distinctive positions and voices as historians.

The Modern European faculty at the University of Chicago is particularly strong in the history of France, Germany, the Habsburg Empire and its successor states, Eastern Europe, and Jewish history. We are, with the help of colleagues in other fields and other departments, also able to support students engaged in colonial history, and the history of the Mediterranean and Atlantic worlds. Dissertations both within national boundaries and transcending them are encouraged, as are a wide range of methodological approaches including those of cultural, intellectual, political, and social history. Sub-specialties of both faculty and students include gender, urban, economic, and military history as well as the history of religion, of the human sciences, of race, and of critical theory.

The research interests and methodological orientations of the faculty are perhaps the best indication of breadth and profile of the Modern European field.

The faculty tends to work across fields as well as within national historiographies and encourage students to do the same. Leora Auslander is a historian of modern France including its Empire (with strong comparative interests in Germany and the Atlantic World), of material culture, gender and Jews. John W. Boyer works on the history of the Habsburg Empire and its successor states; eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Germany; religion and politics in European history; and the history of the universities in Europe and America. Paul Cheney is an historian of Old Regime France and the Atlantic world, with particular emphasis upon the development of the capitalist world economy and the history of the social sciences. Michael Geyer writes in the fields of modern Germany, of warfare and genocide, as well as global history. Jan Goldstein is a historian of modern France and studies the history of the human sciences, practices of the self, historical methodology, and intellectual and cultural history in socio-political context. Moishe Postone is at once an intellectual historian, social theorist, and historian of modern Germany and of anti-Semitism. Bernard Wasserstein is a historian of modern Jewish history and the Middle East as well as of the political and diplomatic history of twentieth century Europe. Tara Zahra works on the history of Central and Eastern Europe from a transnational perspective (including the Habsburg Empire and Successor States, Germany, and a comparative interest in France), with thematic interests in the history of migration, gender and the family, and nationalism.