Phone: +44 1223 338856
Bernhard Fulda is Fellow in History and Director of Studies in History at Sidney Sussex College. His area of expertise is 20th Century German and European history.
Transnational history of opinion polling (knowledge transfer and adaptation, intellectual history of ‘the public’, emergence of political public relations management, and process of self-observation)
Media history (history of media reception, communication networks, political influence of press, uses of media for political objectives/propaganda, changing communication frameworks)
Reception history of avantgarde art (especially Max Pechstein/Expressionism, ‘Degenerate Art’, art markets)
Media representations of history & uses of historical references in contemporary political debates
Present and Past Projects
The Creation of Modern Public Opinion. A History of Polling in Europe and North America, 1920-1980
In my next research project I intend to analyze the emergence, diffusion and impact of opinion polling in North America and Western Europe, as a transnational phenomenon. A key area for analysis will be the role of institutions promoting transnational exchange, like the Ford and Rockefeller foundations, the US State Department, UNESCO, the Gallup Organization, and associations like the World Association of Public Opinion Researchers (WAPOR). The project also aims to show how opinion research was integrated into party politics and into individual campaigns, and how it changed politicians’ self-observation and style of communication.
Press and Politics in Weimar Germany
My book Press and Politics in Weimar Germany explores press influence on voters and the interaction between press and political decision-makers through a study of the Berlin press in the Weimar Republic. It examines the effects of a fragmented press landscape and antagonistic editorial policies on the public’s perception of politics in this period. Analyzing political elite, mass subscription and provinicial papers, as well as tabloids, the study highlights the importance of consumer culture as a context for political mobilization. The book demonstrates the crucial role of press coverage for parliamentary discourse, emphasizing the wealth of evidence for powerful media effects in particular where politicians are concerned. At the same time, because of the close inter-connections between politicians and news-makers during the 1920s, the print media was thoroughly politicized and thus never developed into an independent ‘fourth estate’ as was arguably the case in the US and Great Britain.
Transformation of the European Public Sphere, 1830-1930
I am currently preparing an edited volume provisionally entitled ‘Politics in Print. The press and the transformation of the public sphere in Europe, 1830-1930’, in conjunction with a conference, bringing together scholars from various European countries. The volume engages with Habermas’s assumptions about the transformation of the public sphere by looking at the crucial period in which the take-off of the mass media transformed society into a mass (consumer) society, a phenomenon which coincided with the continuous extension of the franchise.
Max Pechstein, 1881-1955
I am about to complete writing – together with my wife, the art historian Aya Soika – a biography of the German expressionist artist and member of the Brücke group, Max Pechstein. Pechstein’s experience of Wilhelmine Germany, the Weimar Republic, the Third Reich and post-war German division provide an extremely interesting setting for the life of a leading modernist artist. Some of the questions thrown up relate to the relationship between the avantgarde and nationalism, revolutionary aesthetics and political attitudes, as well as artistic identity and dictatorship. Why was Pechstein widely considered the leading Brücke artist prior to the First World War, and how and when did public opinion change? The book emphasizes the importance of personal and organizational networks for the artistic developments of the time, and highlights the role of private and institutional public opinion leaders for the commercial appreciation of modernist art. The project is also part of my on-going engagement with the theoretical and methodological challenges of integrating visual evidence in historical narratives.
Public and Popular History
Finally, related to all of these projects, I am very interested in the issue of current media representations of history, as well as in the use of historical references in contemporary political debates. The ‘Public History Seminar’ which I have been convening since 2005 has organized talks and panel discussions on topics such as history publishing (with Simon Winder, head of Penguin UK, the agent Andrew Wylie, and Richard Fisher, head of Arts & Humanities Division at Cambrige University Press), historical biography (with Stella Tillyard, Alison Weir and Lauro Martines), TV history documentaries (with presenters like David Starkey, Niall Ferguson or Simon Schaffer; producers of Discovery Channel’s Virtual History, BBC’s Ancient Rome – The Rise and Fall of an Empire; script writers and history consultants), the politics of heritage (with Dame Liz Forgan, Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund, Duncan Robinson, director of Fitzwilliam Museum and Peter Mandler, historian & author of History and National Life), history in political news coverage (with BBC’s Newsnight history correspondent), to name just a few. I consider this exchange of ideas and experiences between academic historians and those who produce and communicate history to a mass audience an important and often neglected part of the historian’s enterprise.
Press and Politics in the Weimar Republic (OUP, 2008).
Max Pechstein. A Colourful Life, with Aya Soika (2009 forthcoming)
Articles and contributions to edited volumes
‘Lloyd George and the Weimar Republic’, in: Manfred Görtemaker (ed.), Britain and Germany in the Twentieth Century (Oxford, Berg Publishers, 2005), 31-52.
‘Industries of sensationalism: German tabloids in the interwar period’, in: Corey Ross / Karl-Christian Führer (eds), Mass Media, Culture and Society in Twentieth-Century Germany (Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2006), 183-203.
‘Die Politik der “Unpolitischen”: Die Boulevard- und Massenpresse in den zwanziger und dreissiger Jahren’, in: Frank Bösch / Norbert Frei (eds), Medialisierung und Demokratie im 20. Jahrhundert (Göttingen, Wallstein, 2006), 32-56.
‘Die vielen Gesichter des Hans Schweitzer. Politische Karikaturen als historische Quelle’, in: Gerhard Paul (ed.), Visual History. Die Historiker und die Bilder. Ein Studienbuch (Göttingen, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2006), 206-24.
‘ “Nationalversammlung”. Plakatwerbung für die Republik’, in: Gerhard Paul (ed.), Bilderatlas des 20. und beginnenden 21. Jahrhunderts (Göttingen, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2009 forthcoming), vol. 1.