May 4, 2010 "History as a Way of Life: Jürgen Kocka in Conversation with Klaus Larres" at Library of Congress on May 18

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Robert Saladini (202) 707-2692

Two distinguished historians will discuss German and American historiography at the Library of Congress on May 18 in a program titled "History as a Way of Life: Jürgen Kocka in Conversation with Klaus Larres."

The discussion will start at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, May 18, in the Whittall Pavilion on the ground level of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington D.C. Sponsored by the John W. Kluge Center at the Library, the event is free and open to the public; no tickets or reservations are needed.

The historians will focus on Kocka’s contributions to the rise of social history, which became the dominant force in contemporary history on both sides of the Atlantic. Kocka will also illuminate the continuing benefits of studying history in the 21st century.

Kocka, one of the world’s foremost historians, is currently a distinguished visiting scholar at the Kluge Center. He is a major figure in the field of modern history and has focused his research on the history of European bourgeoisie, capitalism, modernity, industrialization and civil society. He was a dominant participant in the "Historikerstreit" of the late 1980s, when he argued alongside Jürgen Habermas that the Holocaust was a singular and unique event and should not be compared with other mass killings in history, as some historians have done.

Kocka is the former president of the world-renowned Social Science Research Center in Berlin. He was a professor of modern history at the Free University of Berlin, president of the International Committee of Historical Sciences, director of the Berlin School for Comparative European History, a member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and a founding member of the Academia Europaea Cambridge.

From 1973 to 1988, Kocka was professor of general history at the University of Bielefeld, where he also served as director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Research. At that time, together with Hans Ulrich Wehler, he founded what would later be known as the Bielefeld School of Social History. The Bielefeld School provided a new approach to the study of political history, borrowing methodologies from the social sciences and focusing on socio-economic factors, long-term trends and class conflict. Kocka was one of the founders of the highly influential journal "Geschichte und Gesellschaft."

Larres, former holder of the Henry Alfred Kissinger Chair in Foreign Policy and International Relations at the Kluge Center, has returned to the center as distinguished visiting scholar. Frequently called upon as a speaker, panelist and commentator on both current and past European-American relations and the history of the Cold War, Larres is also a senior research fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations and visiting professor at The Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies.

Larres is a professor of history and international affairs at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland. Previously, he was a professor in international relations at the University of London and the Jean Monnet Professor at Queen’s University, Belfast. Larres has held fellowships and visiting professorships at a number of prestigious academic institutions and "think tanks." Larres has published widely on transatlantic relations during the Cold War and the post-Cold War years.

Through a generous endowment from John W. Kluge, the Library of Congress established the Kluge Center in 2000 to bring together the world’s best thinkers to stimulate and energize one another to distill wisdom from the Library’s rich resources and to interact with policymakers in Washington. For further information on the Kluge Center, visit


PR 10-100
ISSN 0731-3527