The German Historical Institute London held its 18th postgraduate students' conference on 9-10 January 2014. Its intention was to give postgraduate research students in the UK and Ireland working on German history an opportunity to present their work-in-progress, and to discuss it with other students working in the same field. The Institute also introduced the participants to its role as a research centre for German history in London and to the facilities it offers (conference and lecture programme, library etc.) as well as to the Institute's Research Fellows.
In selecting students to give a presentation, preference was given to those in their second or third year who had possibly already spent a period of research in Germany. Thirteen projects in all were introduced in plenary sessions held over two days. Papers were devoted to the Reformation period, the nineteenth century, the First World War, the Weimar Republic, the Third Reich, and the Federal Republic of Germany. Most of the papers concentrated on the twentieth century. Participants gave a short summary of their work containing general ideas, leading questions, sources, and initial findings, and this was followed by a discussion.
As well as discussing their subjects and methodologies, the participants exchanged information about practical difficulties such as language and transcription problems, how to locate sources, and finding one's way around German archives. Information about institutions that give grants for research in Germany was also exchanged. The German Historical Institute can offer support here by facilitating contact with German archives and providing letters of introduction which may be necessary for students to gain access to archives or specific source collections. In certain cases it may help students to make contact with particular German universities and professors.
The coffee and lunch breaks offered ample opportunity for informal contact. In the closing discussion, participants were asked to express any criticisms and make suggestions for how the next postgraduate student conference could be improved. The idea as such proved its worth over the two days of the conference. Some participants, however, suggested longer time slots for papers without cutting back on the time available for discussion.
Next year's postgraduate students' conference, which is open to all postgraduate students enrolled at a British or Irish university, will take place from Thursday 8 to Friday 9 January 2015. If you are interested in attending, please register with the Secretary (email: abellamy(ghi)ghil.ac.uk) before 30 November 2014 and include the following details:
full contact details (including email address and telephone number),
the exact title of your project,
the date you started your project,
the name, address, email address and phone number of your university and supervisor,
confirmation whether you have undertaken research in Germany.
Please note that all 2nd and 3rd year students are encouraged to present a paper on their PhD project. Applicants will be contacted as soon as possible.
On the morning of Thursday 8 January 2015 a course on Paleography to read German handwriting is planned. If you are interested in taking part in the Thursday morning course, please confirm your attendance in your registration.
Please note that accommodation and/or travel reimbursement claims can only be considered for those who are eligible and attend the entire event.
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