Dr Martin A. Ruehl
Martin Ruehl took his BA in History (starred First) from Cambridge and his PhD, also in History, from Princeton University (advisors: Anthony Grafton and Suzanne Marchand), with a dissertation on the idea of the Renaissance in modern German thought. After a research fellowship at Queens’ College (1999-2003), 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. In 2013-14, he held a visiting professorship at the University of California in Los Angeles. Since 2017, he is Senior Lecturer in German intellectual history and Director of Studies in History and Modern Languages at Christ's. In 2018-19, he was Senior Research Fellow at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study in South Africa. As Chair of the Management Committee (2016-18), he helped launch the new joint degree in History & Modern Languages.
Dr Ruehl's research concentrates on the ideas and ideologies that shaped German society and culture in the period between Bismarck and 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 essay on aesthetic fundamentalism in the writings of the George Circle appeared in Weimar Thought: A Contested Legacy (Princeton 2013). His monograph The Italian Renaissance and the German Historical Imagination, 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, he is currently writing a book on German debates about slavery and unfree labour from the Enlightenment to the Third Reich.
Dr Ruehl teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses on the history of German thought from Kant to Habermas, with a particular focus on Romanticism, Hegel and Marx, German philhellenism, Nietzsche, the Conservative Revolution, and Nazi ideology.
At the History Faculty, he has taught the History of political thought from c.1700 to c.1890 (Paper 20), the History of political thought since 1890 (Paper 5), and the two modern European history papers (17 and 18). With Colin Shindler, he lectured on the history of Weimar and Nazi cinema for more than ten years.
For the new joint degree in History and Modern Languages, he runs a seminar on "Poetry and Politics in Weimar Germany".
Most of Dr Ruehl's teaching now takes place in the Faculty of Modern Languages, where he is responsible for the German thought elements of various survey and specialized papers. For Ge1 (Introduction to German Studies) he teaches Marx and Nietzsche, for Ge8 (German literature, thought, and history from 1700 to 1815) Enlightenment philosophies of history and the Romantic revolution, for Ge9 (German literature, thought and history from 1815 to 1914) Hegel, Marx, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, for Ge10 (German literature, thought and history, since 1910) Adorno, Benjamin, Heidegger and Arendt.
The two papers he enjoys teaching most are Ge2 (German History and Thought since 1750), for which he lectures and supervises on all aspects of German philosophy from the Enlightenment to the Frankfurt School, and Ge12 (The Modern German Historical Imagination), for which he covers the modules on German philhellenism, German myths and memories, and German ideologies of race.
Ruehl's CS6 (European Cinema) module “War, Propaganda, Memory” examines newsreels from the Third Reich, documentaries by Istituto Luce, Rossellini’s War Trilogy and several German “Rubble Films” (Trümmerfilme) of the late 1940s.
For the MPhil in Film Studies, he teaches a Core Course seminar on "Race, Ideology and History", which investigates the complicity of cinema in the creation and dissemination of racial stereotypes and prejudices.
On the MPhil in European and Comparative Cultures, he regularly teaches a Core Course seminar on “Critical Theory from Marx to Adorno“ and a Module entitled “Enlightenment and its Critics from Kant to Heidegger”.
In February 2017, he was awarded the Pilkington Prize for Teaching Excellence.
Dr Ruehl is a member of the Royal Historical Society, the German Studies Association, the Association for Political Theory, and the Friedrich Nietzsche Gesellschaft. He is on the peer review panel of the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF) and the German Research Foundation (DFG).
Dr Ruehl has supervised more than 15 PhD dissertations. His doctoral students in the past have worked on Hannah Arendt's political thought, Bachofen's theory of matriarchy, the idea of Europe in the Weimar Republic, philosophers under Nazism, German fictional representations of slavery in the 19th century, historiographical controversies in the Federal Republic, utopian thinking in the Frankfurt School, left-wing radicalism in Hamburg since the 1970s, the idea of Bildung in German Enlightenment salons, the "Jewish question" in German political debates during World War I, the concept of guilt in Heidegger and Adorno, and the films of Alexander Kluge. His current PhD students work on individual and community in Nietzsche's philosophy, Schopenhauer's Buddhist sources, German dystopian literature between the wars, aesthetics and politics in the Weimar Republic, Nietzsche's ideal of the "good European", a feminist critique of German Idealist philosophy, and R.W. Fassbinder's cinema of provocation.
Dr Ruehl welcomes requests to supervise doctoral and MPhil theses on topics in modern German intellectual and cultural history, and more generally in the history of historiography and the history of the humanities.
Tags & Themes
Department of German