Dr Toby Thacker
Senior Lecturer in Modern European History
My research concentrates on the cultural, political, and military history of the twentieth century in Europe. I have focused particularly on the role and place of music in Germany after 1945; on music in the early GDR; and on the relationship between different forms of music and concepts of citizenship in modern Germany. I have also written about the end of the Second World War in Europe, and most recently I have written a full length biography of Joseph Goebbels. I am now devoting attention to British culture, the arts, and the construction of memory during and after the First World War, and am researching for a forthcoming book on this subject.
I am currently working on a monograph on British culture, the arts, and the construction of memory during and after the First World War. This will focus on the wartime experience of a group of selected composers, painters, and writers; it will explore how that experience was reflected in their creative work, and how that in turn contributed to the construction of a British memory of the war.
Research group, centre or network
- Contributing to an interdisciplinary research group based in Austria, the "Arbeitsgemeinschaft Klang(welten)" exploring the ways in which music works in society, and in different historical and societal contexts.
- Contributing to a separate international network exploring the theme of 'Music and International Relations', based in Cologne.
- Speaking in September 2012 at an international conference to be held in Cardiff on the theme of political violence.
Impact and engagement
As well as giving lectures to sixth form students on Nazi Germany, I am representing Cardiff University on a Steering Group for the Centenary Commemoration of the First World War in Cardiff; and on a panel coordinating the digitization of selected documents relating to the 'Welsh experience of World War One 1914-1918', which is being run from the National Library of Wales at Aberystwyth.
I regularly review books for a range of scholarly journals, including Music and Letters, German History, European History Quarterly,Central European History, and Gender History.
I have spoken on a number of radio programmes for BBC Radio 3, Radio 4, and for BBC Radio Wales; most recently on Radio 4's programme 'Bach's Choir', broadcast in March 2012. I am contributing to a television documentary on the Welsh journalist Gareth Jones which is being premiered at the Friontline Club in London on 6 July 2012, and is due to be shown on BBC 4 in October 2012.
Education and qualifications
BA (Hons) Modern History, Brasenose College, Oxford
PGCE, Bristol University
MA Modern German History, Cardiff University,
PhD, Cardiff University (2002)
Between 1988 and 1998 I taught History at Cheltenham Bournside School and Sixth Form College; I was Head of History there between 1991 and 1998. From 2003 to 2006 I was a Lecturer in Modern European History at Swansea University; and since 2006 I have been a Lecturer in Modern History at Cardiff University.
'"Anleitung und Kontrolle": Stakuko and the Censorship of Music in the GDR, 1951-1953', presented to the conference on Censorship – Phenomenology, Representation, Contexts, Newcastle University, March 2000.
'Relatively Content? Musicians and Republikflucht in the early GDR', presented to the conference on Socialist Realism and Music in Central Europe 1945-1955, Central European Music Research Centre, Cardiff University, March 2001.
'Meyer and Eisler: Two models of Parteilichkeit in Music', presented to the conference on the Social History of Central European Politics, Swansea University, April 2001.
"Whose Bach? Göttingen, Leipzig, and cultural politics in Germany in 1950", presented to the Annual Conference of the American Historical Association, San Francisco, January 2002.
'New wine in old skins? Bach, Handel, and the GDR's quest for national legitimacy', presented to the conference on The contours of legitimacy in central Europe, St. Antony's College, Oxford, May 2002.
'Ernst Hermann Meyer – German, Jew, Communist, or Englishman? Ideological pressures on the self-representation of a state hero', presented at the annual convention of the Rocky Mountains Modern Languages Association in Scottsdale, Arizona, October 2002.
'Etwas anders als die Hampstead Perspektive: an outline of selected musical transactions between Britain and the GDR', presented to the annual conference of the German History Society at the University of Glamorgan, April 2003.
'Marxism, Humanism, and Tradition: Constructing a new history of music in the German Democratic Republic', presented to the annual conference of the Royal Musical Association, Cardiff University, September 2003.
'"Liberating German musical life": The BBC German Service and planning for Music Control in Occupied Germany, 1944-1949', presented to the conference on German-language broadcasting by the BBC, at the Centre for the Study of German and Austrian Exiles, University of London, September 2003.
'"Wirksame politische Kampfinstrumente": East-West choral exchanges and the struggle for German identity, 1949-1956', presented to the Colloquium on Music and Power at the Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung in Potsdam, January 2004.
'"Gesungen oder musiziert wird aber fast in jedem Haus": Representing and Constructing Citizenship through Music in twentieth-century Germany', presented to the conference on Citizenship and Identity in twentieth-century Germany, at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, September 2004.
'Film biographies of the great composers and the manipulation of history in the GDR' presented to the Multi-Ethnic Studies Association: Europe and the Americas (MESEA) conference on Ethnic Life Writing and Histories at the University of Navarra, Pamplona, May 2006.
'British and American Music in Germany after 1945: Imposition and Reception', presented to the conference on German and Transatlantic relations since 1945, held by the Hanns-Seidel-Stiftung and the Centre for British Studies at Bamberg University, Germany, in January 2007.
'Culture, Consumption, and Identity: Rock 'n' roll in the German marketplace' presented to the conference on The 1950s: the Lost Decade, at Cardiff University, July 2007
'Bełżec, Sobibór, and Treblinka: Time, Place, and Memory', presented to the Historical Association at Cardiff University, February 2008.
Keynote speech, 'Musical oppositions in post-war Europe: construction and deconstruction' to the Royal Musical Association conference on Music after Fascism, held at York University in July 2008.
'Meyer's Mansfelder Oratorium in 1950: Tensions behind the realist façade?' presented to the Mary Bird Research Seminar, Cardiff University Music School, 17 February 2009, and to the Bristol University Music Department Research Seminar, 24 February 2009.
'Goebbels and Hitler', presented to the History Society at Peterhouse, Cambridge, February 2010
'A Welsh Lad meets Dr Goebbels; Gareth Jones' reporting from Germany in 1933', presented to the Department of Continuing Education at Cardiff University, October 2010
'Joseph Goebbels: Propaganda and Private Writing', presented to the History Society at Bristol University, November 2010
'The fiasco revisited: the legacy of denazification for music in divided Germany', presented to the conference on Music in Divided Germany, 1945-1990, at Berkeley University, California, September 2011
'War, Death, Religion, and Music: Goebbels and the Mozart Requiem in December 1941', presented to the Research Seminar at the University of Worcestershire, March 2012
- Making of the Modern World - 20 credits (HS1105)
- History in Practice: Fury, Folly and Footnotes - 20 credits (HS1107)
- Into the Vortex: Britain & the First World War - 30 credits (HS1787)
- Exploring Historical Debate - 30 credits (HS1702)
- From Bismarck to Goebbels: Biography and German History 1870–1945 - 30 credits (HS1829)
- Dissertation - 30 credits (HS1801)
I teach MA modules on modern German history, and I teach on HST 699, Historiographical Debates (this is a core module on the MA History course). I contribute to the MA course on Music and Politics for the School of Music at Cardiff University. I will accept suitably qualified PhD candidates interested in modern German history.
Into the Vortex: Selected Artists and the British Experience of the First World War
This is an individual research project, concerned with the experience of a selected group of British artists during the First World War, with how their experience was reflected in their creative work; and with how that in turn has affected the construction of memory of the First World War.
My work is based firmly on archival research, focused on the papers of the individual artists concerned, and buttressed by a range of other primary sources. My research is directed in the first instance towards the publication of a monograph, Into the Vortex: British Artists and the First World War, which is contracted for publication with Continuum in 2014. I hope to consolidate this by holding an international conference in Cardiff in 2014 on the theme of 'The First World War: Experience, Culture, and Memory'.
Air Power and the Environment
This project is being run by the Royal Air Force Centre for Air Power Studies. The project aims to explore how the deployment of air power has impacted upon the environment, and how attitudes to this have changed. The project involves the interchange of ideas between a number of experts from different countries and from different backgrounds. Some are historians and environmental scholars; others are serving with the armed forces of different countries. I am contributing an essay on '"Very large secondary effects": Environmental considerations in the planning of the British strategic bombing of Germany in the Second World War'.
The project has organised conferences and seminars, and is publishing a peer-reviewed edited volume of its findings: Joel Hayward (ed.), Air Power and the Environment: The Ecological Implications of Modern Air Warfare, to be published in 2012 by the Ministry of Defence under the imprint of the Royal Air Force Centre for Air Power Studies.
Funder: Ministry of Defence
Fazinosum 'Klang'. Anthropologie – Medialität – kulturelle Praxis
This project is being run by an interdisciplinary research group based in Germany and Austria, the "Arbeitsgemeinschaft Klang(welten)" which will draw on insights from sciences such as physics and physiology as well as from humanities such as history, anthropology, and sociology. I have contributed an essay on 'Tonality and Dictatorship in Germany, 1933-1955', to be translated into German for publication in an edited volume in 2012-2013.
The project aims to explore the ways in which music works in society, and in different historical and societal contexts. The project has organised conferences and seminars, and is publishing a peer-reviewed edited volume of its findings:
Wolf Gerhard (ed.), Faszinosum 'Klang'. Anthropologie – Medialität – kulturelle Praxis (Munich: De Gruyter).
Music and International Relations
This project is being run by Jessica Gienow-Hecht, who is Professor of International History at the University of Cologne. The project aims to explore music has played a role in international relations in modern history; and to challenge the view that it has been a cultural factor of only marginal significance in these relations.
The project involves the interchange od ideas between a number of experts from different countries and from different disciplines. Some are historians with expertise in the role of music in particular countries, and at different points in modern history; others are musicologists or experts in the sociology of music. I am contributing an essay on 'Music and International Relations in Germany 1945-1949'.
The project is publishing a peer-reviewed edited volume of its findings to be published in 2012 0r 2013: Jessica Gienow-Hecht (ed.), Music and International Relations (New York and Oxford: Berghahn)