Interview with Isabel Hull--August 5, 2016

Interview with Isabel Hull, John Stambaugh Professor of History at Cornell University. The interview was conducted in Ithaca, NY, on August 5, 2016. To access an mp3 of the complete interview, click here.

Hull is the author of four books which received numerous prizes between them, most notably Sexuality, State and Civil Society in Germany, 1700-1815 (Cornell University Press, 1996.), Absolute Destruction: Military Culture and the Practices of War in Imperial Germany (Cornell, 2004), and most recently A Scrap of Paper: Breaking and Making International Law in the First World War (Cornell, 2014). In addition to being a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, she has also been a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow and an Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung Research Fellow, and recently she won the very prestigious Max-Weber-Stiftung/Historisches Kolleg Research Prize.

Special thanks to Máté Rigó, Ph.D. (Cornell, 2016), for his help with the interview. 

Interview Themes

00:00 Introduction
01:00 Interest in Germany and German history, high school, early interest in Nazism
03:45 Choosing history as a profession
05:40 The Guns of August, early interest in WWI
08:00 Peculiarities of German history, themes that characterize Hull’s career
09:30 repetition in German history
11:45 Structures and their cultural aspects, habits, action, mind
12:15 A Scrap of Paper
13:00 1870 as a crucial in German history
14:20 1848
15:00 Sonderweg and its criticism
18:30 Max Weber
19:20 Germany’s special political path, WWI, WWII; Germany’s problems as political problems
21:00 Politics as key for understanding history
21:20 Trump
22:40 The role of chance in history
25:00 Kultur vs. politics in German political thought and practice
29:00 Critical interpretations of 19th- and 20th-century German history; Sexuality, State, and Civil Society in Germany
31:00 Interest in early modern history, baroque culture; David Sabean
32:00 Hannah Arendt
33:00 Intellectual influences: Gerhard L. Weinberg, Hans W. Gatzke, Peter Gay, Henry Turner, George Mosse, Joseph Redlich
36:00 Reaction to Christopher Clark’s Sleepwalkers
38:00 Diplomacy and the disappearance of Poland; Belgium
43:00 Interpretations of WWI; A Scrap of Paper
46:00 Current historiography and its problems; relativism; new interpretations of old stories as inadequate
50:00 Hull’s new project on WWI
54:00 Moral judgement and history
58:00 Social historical approach
1:02:00 WWI, diplomacy and its critics; Lenin
1:04:00 Belgium and WWI counterfactuals
1:09:00 International law and the protection of small states
1:10:00 States and international law
1:15:00 Council of Historians as advisory board to political elites; Graham Allison and Niall Ferguson’s article in The Atlantic
1:17:00 1839 Belgian treaties and origins of WWI
1:21:00 Emotions of Germans in early 1900s; the revolutionizing of Europe by Germany
1:29:00 István Bibó; Thomas Mann
1:31:00 Vergangenheitsbewältigung
1:35:00 Experience of the Bundesrepublik in the 1970s; RAF; The Green movement, the women’s movement
1:40:00 Current world politics; Russia; tu quoque argument
1:42:00 Russian historical development v US
1:46:00 Vladimir Putin, KGB
1:48:00 Angela Merkel

For a short piece on Hull and the use of "tu quoque," see Wide Awake with Isabel Hull