Concept of the field

Our teaching and research focuses mainly on (gender-specific) questions regarding German and European cultural and social history as well as the history of ideas between 1600 and 1800. The following areas are of major interest: history of war and violence, body history, history of medicine, history of mentalities, history of everyday life (microhistory), as well as mechanisms of genesis and transfer of knowledge.

Research Projects

Dr. Muriel González

  • New Perspectives on the Economy Culture History in Early Modern History. DFG Forschungsnetzwerk "Das Versprechen der Märkte".

  • The history of the RUB Autonomous Women's Lesbian Lecture becomes part of the Digital German Female Archive (DDF) . Refurbishment of the (student) autonomous »women's lesbian movement (s)« in the Ruhr area "using the example of the autonomous women's * Lesbian Unit of the RUB

    Since its founding at the end of January 1979, numerous materials have been accumulated, from leaflets, logs, information leaflets, event flyers, theoretical contributions and conference proceedings, to "spoons" and a few posters. We review, classify, and systematize all materials and record them for DDF's online research and META database. Selected documents and gray literature will be digitized and a chronicle about the most important "stations" and events in the departmental history will be created.

    More Information [German onlay]

    Sponsored by:

    2  4    ida   8

  • European Geographies at the end of the Early Modern Period. Techniques of Construction

    In current debates on Europe, which among others, are related to the financial and political crisis, the European Union oftentimes is characterized as a community of shared values and a homogenous legal and economic space. This characterization is based on a geographical conception of Europe as a spatial unity, which is rarely questioned. The current project is concerned with this assumed geographical unity or the cartographic production of this entity.
    Already in ancient times, there existed practices of graphical production of the world in the form of maps and atlases. Until today they undoubtedly represent powerful tools for the construction of ideas of order and visual appropriations. Political and exemplary pictorial orders always have been opposing each other.
    The project deals with these ideas and the construction of spatial notions of Europe. It will focus on the physical and intellectual genesis of Europe during the eighteenth century in its geographical and pictorial dimension as well as on the mediality of maps in general.
    The key assumption of the project is that between 1790 and 1860 in Western Europe, a geographically based spatialization of thinking and perception became prevalent, that came to be expressed in maps. Furthermore, I claim that these new graphic objects or media powerfully engaged in the reception and production of Eurocentric ideas of space. The analysis is based on an investigation of historical discourses on the production of maps, e.g. of instructions for the production of maps (cultural techniques). Cartography will be analyzed as a cultural technique that functions as a recursive network, in which processes and actors of map production are part of a permanent process of its constitution.


Christina Schröder

  • PhD Project: The Female Body as an Object of Political-Dynastic Negotiations – Perspectives on Alleged and Actual Pregnancies of Aristocratic Widows in the 17th and 18th Centuries (working title)

    The doctoral thesis entitled “The Female Body as an Object of Political-Dynastic Negotiations – Perspectives on Alleged and Actual Pregnancies of Aristocratic Widows in the 17th and 18th Centuries” [working title] investigates cases of pregnant or allegedly pregnant widows, taking into account gender and body historical perspectives and approaches of the Neuere Kulturgeschichte. In doing so, various self as well as social perceptions will be considered, to which the female body was subjected during this extraordinary state between certainty and uncertainty, visible, noticeable, and invisible signs and between final confirmation or denial of pregnancy. This process has often been negotiated in the area of conflict of the somatic perception and knowledge of women on the one hand, and the expert knowledge of frequently consulted doctors and midwives on the other.
    The focus of the doctoral thesis will be on those cases in which widows had not given birth until the death of their spouse or had not produced a living heir at the time of the latter’s death, thus not having fulfilled the duty of securing the family line. Given the high dynastic, domestic, and public status that descendants had for aristocratic families in the early modern period, even an alleged pregnancy of a recently widowed princess meant an extension of her individual scope of action as potential preserver of the respective line. Furthermore, it will be scrutinized if the mere suspicion of an existing pregnancy was sufficient to set in motion numerous political-dynastic processes and negotiations between various agents and institutions with regard to claims to power, inheritance, and dominion. In addition, the in-depth study of individual cases from the 17th and 18th centuries will allow for understanding and negotiating the contemporary discourses about the complex issues of fertility, procreation, pregnancy and offspring. The main objective of the planned analysis is to contribute to the still fragmentary history of the aristocratic female body and the management of aristocratic pregnancies. Apart from that, new insights into the (daily) lives of noble widows can be obtained, which have previously only been explored rudimentarily.