For the first time since the founding of the German Historical Institute in 1987, the topic of the 1995 Annual Lecture addressed the German Middle Ages—as perceived through American eyes. We invited two distinguished scholars from the United States and Germany, and their presentations made this evening a truly special event.
In his lecture, Professor Patrick J. Geary traced the influence of German medievalists, especially their methods and historiography, on American academia. During the second half of the nineteenth century, German scholarship came to be regarded as an exemplary model, owing to its scholarly excellence. However, within a few decades, German medieval scholarship's function as a model for American academics declined. Professor Geary gave an engaging account of this development and offered at the same time an absorbing analysis of how the perception and interpreta- tion of German medieval history by American historians were shaped by their attempt to explain American history. Professor Otto Gerhard Oexle‘s comment complemented this analysis with a wealth of observations centered on the provocative question of whether there was anything at all that American medievalists could learn from German medieval scholarship.
The desire to intensify the cooperation between American and German medievalists led the GHI to choose this topic for the 1995 Annual Lecture. Whereas a good deal of the Institute's research in the next years will focus on the history of Germany and the United States during the Cold War, it remains an integral part of our agenda to encourage and support cooperation with historians of different epochs and various historical disciplines, ranging chronologically from the German Middle Ages to the Cold War, and methodologically from political and diplomatic history to cultural and social history. It is this broad understanding of our agenda that gave rise to the idea that the