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Interviews with Scholars of Europe about their New Books
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New Books in European Studies New Books Network

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.5 • 11 Ratings

Interviews with Scholars of Europe about their New Books
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    Erik Jones, "European Studies: Past, Present, and Future" (Agenda, 2020)

    Erik Jones, "European Studies: Past, Present, and Future" (Agenda, 2020)

    “It is no secret that European studies has suffered a setback in the academy”, write William Collins Donahue and Martin Kagel in their contribution to European Studies: Past, Present and Future (Agenda Publishing, 2020).
    In the US, area studies have waned, funding streams have dried up and students are questioning what job being a “Europeanist” will get them. In the UK, as Professor Helen Drake has written, “European Studies has all but disappeared from British university curricula”.
    Why? What can be done? Does the setback in the discipline mirror the EU’s own crises over the past decade?
    For this first book in the Council for European Studies’ Understanding Europe series, Erik Jones assembled 55 Europeanists to write 45 answers to these questions and to think aloud about the future of the discipline and the continent.
    Erik Jones is the Director of European and Eurasian Studies and Professor of European Studies and International Political Economy at the Paul Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of the Johns Hopkins University.
    *The author's own book recommendations are Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World by Adam Tooze (Allen Lane, 2018) and The Once and Future King by T. H. White (Penguin, 2016 - first published in 1958).
    Tim Gwynn Jones is an economic and political-risk analyst at Medley Global Advisors.
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    Diana Arbaiza, "The Spirit of Hispanism: Commerce, Culture, and Identity Across the Atlantic, 1875-1936" (U Notre Dame Press, 2020)

    Diana Arbaiza, "The Spirit of Hispanism: Commerce, Culture, and Identity Across the Atlantic, 1875-1936" (U Notre Dame Press, 2020)

    In the late nineteenth century, Spanish intellectuals and entrepreneurs became captivated with Hispanism, a movement of transatlantic rapprochement between Spain and Latin America. Not only was this movement envisioned as a form of cultural empire to symbolically compensate for Spain?s colonial decline but it was also imagined as an opportunity to materially regain the Latin American markets. Paradoxically, a central trope of Hispanist discourse was the antimaterialistic character of Hispanic culture, allegedly the legacy of the moral superiority of Spanish colonialism in comparison with the commercial drive of modern colonial projects. This study examines how Spanish authors, economists, and entrepreneurs of various ideological backgrounds strove to reconcile the construction of Hispanic cultural identity with discourses of political economy and commercial interests surrounding the movement. 
    Drawing from an interdisciplinary archive of literary essays, economic treatises, and political discourses, The Spirit of Hispanism: Commerce, Culture, and Identity Across the Atlantic, 1875-1936 (University of Notre Dame Press, 2020) revisits Peninsular Hispanism to underscore how the interlacing of cultural and commercial interests fundamentally shaped the Hispanist movement. The Spirit of Hispanism will appeal to scholars in Hispanic literary and cultural studies as well as historians and anthropologists who specialize in the history of Spain and Latin America.
    Ethan Besser Fredrick is a graduate student in Modern Latin American history seeking his PhD at the University of Minnesota. His work focuses on the Transatlantic Catholic movements in Mexico and Spain during the early 20th century.
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    Barbara Pitkin, "Calvin, the Bible, and History" (Oxford UP, 2020)

    Barbara Pitkin, "Calvin, the Bible, and History" (Oxford UP, 2020)

    John Calvin was known foremost for his powerful impact on the fundamental doctrines of Protestantism, and his biblical interpretation continues to attract interest and inquiry. Calvin, the Bible, and History investigates Calvin's exegesis of the Bible through the lens of one of its most distinctive and distinguishing features: his historicizing approach to scripture. Barbara Pitkin here explores how historical consciousness affected Calvin's interpretation of the Bible, sometimes leading him to unusual, unprecedented, and occasionally controversial exegetical conclusions. 
    Through several case studies, Pitkin explores the multi-faceted ways that historical consciousness was interlinked with Calvin's interpretation of biblical books, authors, and themes, analyzing the centrality of history in his engagement with scripture from the Pentateuch to his reception of the apostle Paul. First establishing the relevant intellectual and cultural contexts, Pitkin situates Calvin's readings within broader cultural trends and historical developments, demonstrating the expansive impact of Calvin's concept of history on his reading of the Bible. Calvin, the Bible, and History (Oxford UP, 2020) reveals the significance of his efforts to relate the biblical past to current historical conditions, reshaping an earlier image of Calvin as a forerunner of modern historical criticism by viewing his deep historical sensibility and distinct interpretive approach within their early modern context.
    Zach McCulley (@zamccull) is a historian of religion and literary cultures in early modern England and PhD candidate in History at Queen's University Belfast.
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    Domenico Losurdo, "Nietzsche, the Aristocratic Rebel: Intellectual Biography and Critical Balance-Sheet" (Haymarket Books, 2021)

    Domenico Losurdo, "Nietzsche, the Aristocratic Rebel: Intellectual Biography and Critical Balance-Sheet" (Haymarket Books, 2021)

    The 19th century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche stands among the canon’s most-cited figures, with aphorisms dotting texts on a variety of topics, and his name evokes strong responses from almost anyone who has ever heard of him. His aphoristic and poetic writing style have made it difficult at times to understand what he meant, although the wealth of commentaries pulling him in a variety of different directions points to the fact that he did mean something. On the political right he has been credited as an influence among many reactionary political movements, but even on the left he is cited as an emancipatory figure, suspicious of the powers that be. Aside from these, his writings on art and psychology have remained influential for many. It would seem then that there are numerous Nietzsche’s one can pull from, and due to the loose nature of his writing, one would seem to be warranted in reading Nietzsche a bit more freely. However, that freedom and flexibility misses that there may in fact be a unifying thread to Nietzsche’s thought, and it may in fact be a much darker thread than many of his apologists have realized.
    This is the main argument of the book we’ll be discussing today, Domenico Losurdo’s Nietzsche, The Aristocratic Rebel: Intellectual Biography and Balance Sheet. Originally published about 20 years ago in Italian, it has recently been delivered to English audiences by Gregor Benton and with an introduction by Harrison Fluss as part of the Historical Materialism book series. Clocking in at just over 1000 pages, it is both a literal and figurative bombshell, delivering a rigorous and systematic account of Nietzsche’s thought. A major part of the books length comes from the fact that Losurdo refuses to treat Nietzsche in isolation, and instead spends a large amount of time recreating Nietzsche’s various contexts, 19th century Germany and Europe more broadly, as a way of making the political orientation of Nietzsche’s thought all the more explicit. Through his investigation, Losurdo reveals a Nietzsche who is committed to fighting against the democratic movements happening all around him and being an advocate for a superior elite at the expense of everyone else, whose main purpose in life is to serve them.
    Domenico Losurdo was an Italian Marxist historian and philosopher. 
    Harrison Fluss received his PhD in philosophy at Stony Brook University. He is a professor at Manhattan College, NYC and wrote the introduction to the English edition of The Aristocratic Rebel.
    Daniel Tutt studied at American University and the European Graduate School. He teaches in the philosophy department at George Washington University. He reviewed The Aristocratic Rebel for Historical Materialism.
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    Stella Ghervas, "Conquering Peace: From the Enlightenment to the European Union" (Harvard UP, 2021)

    Stella Ghervas, "Conquering Peace: From the Enlightenment to the European Union" (Harvard UP, 2021)

    Stella Ghervas's Conquering Peace: From the Enlightenment to the European Union (Harvard University Press, 2021) is a bold new look at war and diplomacy in Europe that traces the idea of a unified continent in attempts since the eighteenth century to engineer lasting peace.
    Political peace in Europe has historically been elusive and ephemeral. Stella Ghervas shows that since the eighteenth century, European thinkers and leaders in pursuit of lasting peace fostered the idea of European unification.
    Bridging intellectual and political history, Ghervas draws on the work of philosophers from Abbé de Saint-Pierre, who wrote an early eighteenth-century plan for perpetual peace, to Rousseau and Kant, as well as statesmen such as Tsar Alexander I, Woodrow Wilson, Winston Churchill, Robert Schuman, and Mikhail Gorbachev. She locates five major conflicts since 1700 that spurred such visionaries to promote systems of peace in Europe: the War of the Spanish Succession, the Napoleonic Wars, World War I, World War II, and the Cold War. Each moment generated a "spirit" of peace among monarchs, diplomats, democratic leaders, and ordinary citizens. The engineers of peace progressively constructed mechanisms and institutions designed to prevent future wars.
    Arguing for continuities from the ideals of the Enlightenment, through the nineteenth-century Concert of Nations, to the institutions of the European Union and beyond, Conquering Peace illustrates how peace as a value shaped the idea of a unified Europe long before the EU came into being. Today the EU is widely criticized as an obstacle to sovereignty and for its democratic deficit. Seen in the long-range perspective of the history of peacemaking, however, this European society of states emerges as something else entirely: a step in the quest for a less violent world.
    Stella Ghervas is Professor of Russian History at Newcastle University (UK) and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. She is also an Associate of the History Department at Harvard University and Visiting Professor at Harvard Summer School since 2015. Her main interests are in intellectual and international history of modern Europe, with special reference to the history of peace and peace-making, and in Russia’s intellectual and maritime history.
    She is the author of Alexandre Stourdza (1791-1854): Un intellectuel orthodoxe face à l’Occident (1999), Réinventer la tradition: Alexandre Stourdza et l’Europe de la Sainte-Alliance (which won several book prizes, including the Guizot Prize from the Académie Française, 2008) and Conquering Peace: From the Enlightenment to the European Union (2021), and the editor of Penser l’Europe – Quarante ans d’études européennes à Genève (2003), Lieux d’Europe: Mythes et limites (2008) and A Cultural History of Peace in the Age of Enlightenment (Bloomsburg, with David Armitage, 2020).
    Her website is at https://www.ghervas.net/ and you can follow her on Twitter @StellaGhervas
    Steven Seegel, Professor of History, University of Northern ColoradoMaphead, Founding Board @H__Ukraine, Borderologist, Translator for the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, Podcast Host, Proud Slow Runner, Dog Valet
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    • 56 min
    Erik Grimmer-Solem, "Learning Empire: Globalization and the German Quest for World Status, 1875-1919" (Cambridge UP, 2019)

    Erik Grimmer-Solem, "Learning Empire: Globalization and the German Quest for World Status, 1875-1919" (Cambridge UP, 2019)

    The First World War marked the end point of a process of German globalization that began in the 1870s, well before Germany acquired a colonial empire or extensive overseas commercial interests. Structured around the figures of five influential economists who shaped the German political landscape, Professor of History, Erik Grimmer-Solem’s Learning Empire: Globalization and the German Quest for World Status, 1875-1919 (Cambridge University Press, 2019), explores how their overseas experiences shaped public perceptions of the world and Germany's place in it. These men helped define a German liberal imperialism that came to influence the 'world policy' (Weltpolitik) of Kaiser Wilhelm, Chancellor Bülow, and Admiral Tirpitz. They devised naval propaganda, reshaped Reichstag politics, were involved in colonial and financial reforms, and helped define the debate over war aims in the First World War. Looking closely at German worldwide entanglements, Learning Empire recasts how we interpret German imperialism, the origins of the First World War, and the rise of Nazism, inviting reflection on the challenges of globalization in the current century. Grimmer-Solem, has written an imaginative and first-rate account of several aspects of Kaiserreich Germany’s politics. No one will in the future look at Germany in this period without referencing this book.
    Charles Coutinho Ph. D. of the Royal Historical Society, received his doctorate from New York University. His area of specialization is 19th and 20th-century European, American diplomatic and political history. He has written for Chatham House’s International Affairs, the Institute of Historical Research's Reviews in History and the University of Rouen's online periodical Cercles.
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    • 1 hr 12 min

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4.5 out of 5
11 Ratings

11 Ratings

Latin teacher ,

a very uneven podcast

Sometimes excellent, if the interviewer lets the guest talk or if he knows something about the guest’s topic. When the host just reads from a pre-fab list of questions no matter what the guest answers, then it’s a weak episode.

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