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For an Overview of the  NCGS Program in 2020-21 Click here

For a PDF of the spring program overview click here


Because of the Covid-19-pandemic, we will continue to hold the NCGS Seminars as Zoom seminars in the spring 2021.

We will communicate the Zoom URL for each NCGS seminar  before the event via our NCGS list serve.

If you are not on this list serve please contact the NCGS organizers MAX H. LAZAR ( and MICHAEL SKALSKI (mskalski@live.unc.eduand ask them to be added the NCGS list serve or request the URL for a specific event.

The NCGS  organizers  will also  take care of the  technology of the Zoom Seminars. For our NCGS Online Seminars Etiquette click here.


Friday, 29 January 2021

UNC Chapel Hill  I  4:00 – 5:30 pm I Online Seminar


of the Konrad H.  Jarausch Essay Prize Winner for Advanced Graduate Students in 2020

PETER B. THOMPSON  I  University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Department of History

Masters or Victims of the Chemical World?: The Question of Complicity in a Chemically-Minded Third Reich


The presentation will examine the ways in which the gas mask served as a technological site of discipline, conformity, and complicity in the envisioned air and gas protection community of the Third Reich. Throughout the 1930s, the Nazis used the gas mask as a material tool in the creation of a compliant and chemically-minded German subject. With masks donned, German civilians now appeared as technologically augmented soldiers in the Nazis’ envisioned struggle for national survival. Indeed, in the eyes of the Nazis, the mask created a physically homogenized society that could survive, if not thrive, in a modernity defined by its toxic environment. Exploring the role of gas mask technology in the creation of a national community predicated on violent exclusions and bodily discipline, this presentation will argue that the average German civilian under the gas mask maintained a complex subjectivity that regularly shifted between perpetrator, bystander, and victim of the Nazi regime.

PETER B. THOMPSON is a PhD graduate in the History Department at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. His broad research interests lie at the intersection of German cultural history and the history of science and technology at the turn of the twentieth century.


Welcome: LISA LINDSAY (Chair, UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History)

Introduction of the Prize Winner:  JAMES CHAPPEL  I  Duke University, Department of History

Moderation: KAREN HAGEMANN   I  UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History

Co-Conveners: Duke University, Department of History, and UNC-Chapel Hill History, Department of History, and Center for European Studies

PDF of the Flyer


Friday, 29 January 2021

UNC Chapel Hill  I  12:00 – 2:00 pm I Online Seminar

Graduate Writing Seminar

with PETER B. THOMPSON  I University of Illinois—Urbana-Champaign, Department of History

Discussion of “The Pale Death: Poison Gas and German Racial Exceptionalism, 1915-1945”


In the second year of Wolf War I, the German-Jewish chemist Fritz Haber supervised the first deployment of industrialized chemical weapons against French colonial troops. The uncertain nature of the attack, both in its execution and outcome, led many German military men to question the controllability of poison gas. Over the next three decades, Germans would continue this line of inquiry, as aero-chemical attacks appeared increasingly imminent. This article narrates the German search for control over chemical weapons between the World Wars, revealing the ways in which interwar techno-nationalists tied the mastery of poison gas to ethno-racial definitions of German-ness. Under the Nazis, leaders in civilian aero-chemical defense picked up this interwar thread and promoted a dangerous embrace of gas that would supposedly cull the technically superior Germans from other lesser races. While this vision of a chemically saturated world did not suffuse German society, such logic did play out in the gas chambers of the Holocaust


Comments:  JAMES CHAPPEL (Duke University, Department of History) and KONRAD H. JARAUSCH (UNC—Chapel Hill, Department of History)

Moderation:  MAX H. LAZAR (UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History) and MICHAEL SKALSKI (UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History)


The paper will be distributed to the participants before the workshop. Please contact the organizers of the event.

Co-Conveners: Duke University, Department of History, and UNC-Chapel Hill History, Department of History and the  Center for European Studies

PDF of the Flyer


Call for Proposals

The Konrad H. Jarausch Essay Prize for Advanced Graduate Students in Central European History 2021


Deadline:  May 31, 2021

The North Carolina German Studies Seminar and Workshop Series is proud to announce the third annual Konrad Jarausch Essay Prize Competition for Advanced Graduate Students. In recognition of the longstanding commitment to graduate education of Konrad H. Jarausch, who is the Lurcy Professor of European Civilization at the Department of History of the University of North Carolina, this prize serves to celebrate and cultivate outstanding new talent in the broadly defined field of Central European history from the 17th to the 20th century.

The prize will award the best article or chapter-length piece of writing by a current graduate student working in the field of Central European history. The recipient of this prize will receive an honorarium of $1,000 and an invitation to present his or her dissertation with a lecture in the North Carolina German Studies Seminar (NCGS) in 2021/22. In addition, we will invite him or her to a writing workshop for graduate students in history on the same day, in which the submitted chapter will be discussed by accomplished scholars, who will make suggestions on how to revise and prepare it for submission to a first-rate academic journal. Both events will provide an opportunity for the winner to receive feedback from an interdisciplinary group of experts. The prizewinner will be encouraged, but not required to submit their revised essay for publication. We will cover the costs for travel (economy class flight) to and from Chapel Hill, hotel accommodation and dinner following the lecture.

The NCGS series was started in 2007 by an interdisciplinary and inter-institutional group of scholars in the Research Triangle of North Carolina, which is home to nationally and internationally recognized graduate programs in German Studies. The series has traditionally emphasized graduate education.

Eligibility requirements:

  • Applicants must be enrolled in a PhD program at a North American university.
  • They must not have defended dissertation before the spring term 2021.
  • They must plan to be resident in North America in the fall 2021.

Requirements for the proposal:

  • A statement of up to five pages describing the outlines of your dissertation project and its state of completion.
  • A CV that clearly indicates when you intend to defend your dissertation or defended it in the spring term 2021.
  • An article draft, ideally based on chapter from the dissertation, of approx. 10,000 words (excluding notes) not yet accepted by a journal.


If you are interested, please send the application materials to Dr. James Chappel ( latest until May 31, 2021. Please do not hesitate to address any questions about the prize, the required material and the selection process to him.

Prize committee: Dr. James Chappel (Duke University), Dr. Karen Hagemann, Dr. Terence McIntosh, Dr. Dirk Moses (UNC Chapel Hill), and Dr. Thomas Pegelow-Kaplan (Appalachian State University).


For a PDF of the Call for Proposals, click here


North Carolina German Studies Seminar Series

An Open Letter: in Solidarity against Racism

June 6, 2020


Dear Friends,

We hope that this message finds you safe and healthy in these turbulent times in which different crises currently combine to show us, once again, the systemic and institutionalized racism of politics, economy and society in the United States. Along with the rest of the world, we have been outraged and deeply affected by the recent events. The killing of George Floyd and the violent response of the police against mourning and protesting demonstrators are appalling and troubling. We are therefore reaffirming our commitment to support the struggle against racism and anti-Blackness here and elsewhere on the globe. 

The NCGS Steering Committee is committed to countering racism, anti-Blackness, and violence at home, in Europe, particularly Germany, and across the world. We aim to foster dialogue on, and broaden the visibility of resources about the history of structural racism, anti-Black violence, and many related issues. 

Germany’s twentieth century history has much to teach us about the rise of Nazism and more current populist right wing movements and their inherent racism, as well as about the persistence of structural racism and the difficulty of combating it. It shows that the only way forward is to address and study, without any hesitation, the dark past—discussing it in public, even if this courts controversy, in order to teach not only students but also the broader public. This was and is a painful process for the racially discriminated, suppressed, and killed minorities: in twentieth century German history mainly, but not only, Jewish people. It is also painful, and necessary, for the descendants of the discriminating, suppressing, and persecuting majority, who are not only forced to confront the history of their ancestors, but also their own prejudices and ongoing, often unwitting, racist thinking and behavior. German history also shows that a democratic civil society, including critical media and very active grassroots movements, are needed to foster change. In Germany, as in the United States, this work is not complete, as right-wing populism, xenophobia, racism, and antisemitism are rising again.

We therefore strongly support the current movement of the Black community and their interracial coalitions in the United States whose members have been trying to come to terms with their pain, anger, sadness, and frustration over a struggle against racism and inequality that has persisted on American soil since the seventeenth century. Everybody who stands behind this agenda needs to support this movement and listen and learn from its proponents. Its calls can and should not be ignored any longer.



On behalf of the 

The NCGS Steering Committee


Dr. James Chappel (Duke University)

Dr. Karen Hagemann (UNC Chapel Hill) (Speaker)

Dr. Konrad H. Jarausch (UNC Chapel Hill)

Dr. Priscilla Layne (UNC Chapel Hill)

Dr. Jakob Norberg (Duke University)

Dr. Thomas Pegelow-Kaplan (Appalachian State University)

Dr. Andrea Sinn (Elon University)


The open letter as a  PDF

Carolina Seminars I Duke University: Department of Germanic Languages & Literature I Department of History I The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages & Literatures I Department of History and


Speaker: Karen Hagemann
, James G. Kenan Distinguished Professor of History,  UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History (