The IES Research Colloquium: Ian Beacock

October 15, 2018

Ian Beacock, IES Visiting Scholar (Ph.D. Candidate in History, Stanford): “Democratic Emotions & the Unravelling of the Weimar Republic, 1918-1933”

Lunch will be served at 12:00 pm
12:15 pm
C.K. Choi, Rm. #351

Abstract – Do emotions threaten democracy? Are some more dangerous than others? Do collective feelings undermine our capacity for public reasoning? Or are they somehow required to bind us together as political communities of free and equal citizens? Today, as we enter a stormy new age of populist anger and growing frustration with representative institutions, this problem of democratic emotions is both urgent and unresolved. This talk reveals how the men and women of Weimar Germany grappled with the same questions after the First World War. As their democracy buckled under the pressure of economic crisis and political violence, a wide variety of activists, intellectuals, and elected officials explicitly debated whether emotions and democracy could ever be compatible. Some thought that rationality had to triumph. Others worked to cultivate specifically democratic emotions in a bid to secure their fragile Republic: love and hatred, honor and homoerotic desire. This talk reanimates this passionate democratic imagination, restoring to life the creative ways in which ordinary citizens thought about political emotions in Weimar Germany. It also sketches the ways in which this expansive democratic sensibility eroded over the course of the 1920s – and what the rise of political rationalism might be able to tell us about the ultimate disintegration of Weimar democracy.

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