Dr Manuel Stoffers (E.P.M.)
My present research is focused on the history of cycling cultures and of cycling as a mode of individual mass transport - a surprisingly neglected subject in Dutch academic historical research.
My PhD dissertation (2007) dealt with The ‘age of nervousness' and its historians. The rise of the history of mentalities in Germany, 1889-1915. The dissertation set out to demonstrate that in the German Kaiserreich of the 1890s a new, academic form of cultural history developed, which was characterized by an interest in the history of collective psychological dispositions: perceptions, feelings, passions and sensibilities. Living at a time which they described as an ‘age of nervousness', the new cultural historians promoted a kind of ‘history of mentalities' (as similar historical research became known after World War II), or - in their own words - a form of ‘historical psychology', Menschengeschichte or Seelengeschichte.
The dissertation answers the questions how and why this variant of cultural history emerged in fin-de-siècle German academic historiography. The main characters of the dissertation are five German historians who, in the period 1889-1915, fervently committed themselves to changing academic historiography from a predominantly political orientation to an all-encompassing cultural perspective. In order of appearance these historians are: Eberhard Gothein (1853-1923, professor in Karlsruhe, Bonn and Heidelberg), Karl Lamprecht (1856-1915, professor in Bonn, Marburg and Leipzig), Georg Steinhausen (1866-1933, academic librarian in Jena and Kassel, and professor in Heidelberg), Kurt Breysig (1866-1940, professor in Berlin), and Walter Goetz (1867-1958, professor in Tübingen, Strasburg and Leipzig). The analysis of their intellectual development and careers, their historical work and political ideals forms the substance of this study in intellectual history (a full English summary is available from the download section).
Previous research concerned early-modern cultural and intellectual history, e.g. the attitudes and opinions of Erasmus of Rotterdam and eighteenth-century Dutch burghers concerning death. Together with classicist Pieter Thijs I researched the history of the publication and reception of a famous sixteenth-century specimen of the art of memory, Thomas Murners Logica memorativa, the oldest educational card game known. In another research article I traced the development of the twentieth-century reception of Erasmus of Rotterdam by analysing the most important biographies of the humanist published between 1900 and 1980.