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Dr Martin Alexander Ruehl

Dr Martin Alexander Ruehl

Senior Lecturer in German Intellectual History at the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages

Department of German
Sidgwick Avenue

Cambridge CB3 9DA
Office Phone: 01223-767388


Martin Ruehl took his BA (starred First) from Cambridge and his PhD from Princeton (advisors: Anthony Grafton and Suzanne Marchand). After a research fellowship at Queens’ College, he joined Sidney Sussex as College Lecturer and Director of Studies in History. Between 2007 and 2017, he was University Lecturer in the German Department and Director of Studies in MML at Trinity Hall. Since 2017, he is Senior Lecturer in German intellectual history and Director of Studies in History & Modern Languages at Christ's. He continues to teach for the History Faculty at the undergraduate as well as graduate level and is an active member of the teaching staff for the MPhil in Political Thought and Intellectual History and the MPhil in Modern European History.

Subject groups/Research projects

Political Thought and Intellectual History:

Research Interests

Dr Ruehl specializes in the intellectual history of modern Germany. His research to date has focused on the ideas and ideologies that shaped German society and culture from Bismarck to Hitler, in particular the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche and its reception since the 1890s. He has published books and articles on Nietzsche, Burckhardt, Thomas Mann, Ernst Kantorowicz, German historicism and grecophilia. His monograph The Italian Renaissance and the German Historical Imagiation, 1860-1930 (Cambridge 2015) was shortlisted for the Gladstone History Book Prize of the Royal Historical Society. The recipient of a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship, Dr Ruehl is currently writing a book on German ideas of Europe before World War I. 

Research Supervision

Dr Ruehl has supervised PhD dissertations on Heidegger, Hannah Arendt, Bachofen's Mutterrecht, the idea of Europe in the Weimar Republic, philosophers under Nazism, German debates about slavery in the 19th century, historiographical controversies in the Federal Republic, utopian thinking in the Frankfurt School, and the films of Alexander Kluge. His current doctoral students work on left-wing radicalism in Hamburg since the 1970s, German Enlightenment salons, "the Jewish question" as a crystallization point of German political thought in the 1920s, Schopenhauer's Indian sources, Heidegger and French phenomenology, German dystopian literature between the wars, aesthetics and politics in the Weimar Republic, and St Paul in German-Jewish Thought since 1945. 
Dr Ruehl welcomes requests to supervise doctoral theses on topics in modern German intellectual and cultural history, and more generally in the history of historiography and the history of the humanities.


Dr Ruehl has taught both undergraduate and graduate courses on the history of political thought, with particular emphasis on Romanticism, Nietzsche and Nietzscheanism, the Conservative Revolution and fascist ideology. In addition to this, he has supervised and lectured on various aspects of modern historiography, including Ranke and the Prussian School, Historismus, Marx and historical materialism, as well as postmodernism. With Colin Shindler, he teaches the class on Weimar and Nazi Cinema for the Themes and Sources paper on "Film and History, 1929-1945". For the MPhil in Political Thought and Intellectual History, he regularly supervises dissertations and essays on topics in modern German philosophy and theory, from Kant to Habermas. 

In February 2017, he was awarded the Pilkington Prize for Teaching Excellence.

Other Professional Activities

This is a recent article on Nietzsche for The Independent (never mind the silly URL):

Key Publications

The Italian Renaissance in the German Historical Imagination, 1860-1930, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2015

Hitler – Films from Germany: History, Cinema and Politics since 1945, London: Palgrave 2012 (ed. with K. Machtans)

A Poet’s Reich: Politics and Culture in the George Circle, Rochester: Camden House 2011 (ed. with M. Lane)

Quentin Skinner: Visionen des Politischen, Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp 2009 (ed. with M. Heinz)

Out of Arcadia: Classics and Politics in Germany in the Age of Burckhardt, Nietzsche and Wilamowitz, London: Institute of Classical Studies 2003 (ed. with I. Gildenhard)

Other Publications

‘Jacob Burckhardt und der Islam’, Zeitschrift für Ideengeschichte 12, 5 (Spring 2018), pp. 11-22

 ‘Germany: A Winter’s Tale – Anselm Kiefer at the Royal Academy’, Art & Christianity 80 (Winter 2015), pp. 8-10

‘German Horror Stories: Teutomania and the Ghosts of Tacitus’, Arion 22, 2 (Fall/Winter 2014), pp. 129-189

‘Aesthetic Fundamentalism in Weimar Poetry: Stefan George and his Circle, 1918-1933’, in: P. Gordon and J.P. McCormick (eds), Weimar Thought: A Contested Legacy, Princeton: Princeton University Press 2013, pp. 240-272

‘Das Allgemeine und sein Bild: Zur Geschichtsphilosophie Jacob Burckhardts’, Historische Zeitschrift 296, 1 (2013), pp. 49-83

‘Introduction’, in: K. Machtans and M.A. Ruehl (eds), Hitler – Films from Germany: History, Cinema, and Politics since 1945, London: Palgrave 2012, pp. 1-27

‘Introduction’, in: M. Lane and M.A. Ruehl (eds), A Poet’s Reich: Politics and Culture in the George Circle, Rochester: Camden House 2011, pp. 1-23

‘“Imperium transcendat hominem”: Reich and Herrschaft in Ernst Kantorowicz’s Kaiser Friedrich der Zweite’, in: M. Lane and M.A. Ruehl (eds), A Poet’s Reich: Politics and Culture in the George Circle, Rochester: Camden House 2011, pp. 204-251

‘Nietzsches Götzendämmerung’, Nietzscheforschung: Jahrbuch der Nietzsche-Gesellschaft 16 (2009), pp. 1-13 (with A.U. Sommer)

‘Nachwort’, in: M. Heinz and M.A. Ruehl (eds), Quentin Skinner: Visionen des Politischen, Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp 2009, pp. 253-286 (with M. Heinz)

‘A Master from Germany: Thomas Mann, Albrecht Dürer and the Making of a National Icon’, Oxford German Studies 38, 1 (2009), pp. 63-108

‘“An Uncanny Re-Awakening”: Nietzsche’s Renascence of the Renaissance out of the Spirit of Jacob Burckhardt’, in: M. Dries (ed.), Nietzsche on Time and History, Berlin and New York: De Gruyter 2008, pp. 227-267

‘Kentaurenkämpfe: Jacob Burckhardt und das Allgemeine’, in: M. Hagner and M. Laubichler (eds), Der Hochsitz des Wissens: Das Allgemeine als wissenschaftlicher Wert, Zurich and Munich: Diaphanes Verlag 2006, pp. 23-72

Politeia 1871: Young Nietzsche on the Greek State’, in: P. Bishop (ed.), Nietzsche and Antiquity: His Reaction and Response to the Classical Tradition, Rochester: Camden House 2004, pp. 79-97

‘Blut, bellezza, Bürgertugend: Thomas Manns Fiorenza und der Renaissancekult um 1900’, in: C. Emden and D. Midgley (eds), German Literature, History and the Nation, Oxford: Peter Lang 2004, pp. 189-229

‘Death in Florence: Thomas Mann and the Ideologies of Renaissancismus at the Fin de Siècle’, in: S. Marchand and D. Lindenfeld (eds), Germany at the Fin de Siècle: Culture, Politics and Ideas, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press 2004, pp. 186-227

‘Nietzsche und Basel’, Nietzsche-Studien 30 (2001), pp. 498-508

‘In This Time Without Emperors: The Politics of Ernst Kantorowicz’s Kaiser Friedrich der Zweite Reconsidered’, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 63 (2000), pp. 187-242