The Challenges of Writing a 20th Century History of Sexuality in Europe

Historian Dagmar Herzog to deliver Annual Wassong Memorial Lecture

What: Dagmar Herzog, Distinguished Professor of History and the Daniel Rose Faculty Scholar at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, will deliver the annual Shirley G. Wassong Memorial Lecture in European and American Art, Culture and History. The title of her lecture is “Sexuality in Europe: A 20th Century History and a History of the Present.” The lecture is free and open to the public.

When:  Monday, April 22 at 7:30 p.m. 

Where: The Wean Terrace Rooms in Mather Hall on the Trinity campus, 300 Summit Street, Hartford.

Background: A 2012 John Simon Guggenheim Fellow, Herzog is currently a Visiting Research Scholar at the Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies at Princeton University.

She will discuss the challenges of writing a history of sexuality in Europe from the waning of Victorianism to the collapse of Communism and the rise of European Islam. Although the 20th century is often called “the century of sex” and seen as an era of increasing liberalization, Herzog’s work instead emphasizes the contradictions in sexual politics and behaviors; the ambivalences concerning sexual freedoms; and the extraordinary difficulties encountered in securing sexual rights.

Herzog has published widely on the history of religion in Europe and the United States, on the Holocaust and its aftermath, and on the histories of gender and sexuality.

She is the author of Sexuality in Europe: A Twentieth-Century History; Sex in Crisis: The New Sexual Revolution and the Future of American Politics; and Sex After Fascism: Memory and Morality in Twentieth-Century Germany. She has edited six anthologies, including Brutality and Desire: War and Sexuality in Europe’s Twentieth Century and Lessons and Legacies VII: The Holocaust in International Perspective.

Herzog has held positions as a member in the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study and as a Mellon Faculty Fellow at Harvard University. Her research has been supported by the Ford Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Social Science Research Council, the German American Exchange Service, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

She has worked as a columnist, covering American politics for the Berlin-based die Tageszeitung, and was recently appointed a member of the Board of Editors of the American Historical Review. Herzog is at work on a new project on the European and American histories of psychoanalysis, trauma and desire.

The Shirley G. Wassong Memorial Lecture in European and American Art, Culture and History is an outgrowth of a fund established in 1996 in her memory by friends, family and her husband, Joseph F. Wassong, Jr., ’59. The annual lecture features members of Trinity’s faculty and guest scholars in alternating years. The lecturers are from various academic disciplines, and their topics range from antiquity to the present day. This year’s event marks the 16th Wassong Memorial Lecture.

Joseph Wassong majored in history at Trinity, received his M.A. in history from Columbia University, and spent his career teaching at Naugatuck Valley Community College before retiring in 1999. Shirley Wassong was a graduate of Bryant College and spent her career as a dental assistant. She was a volunteer at St. Thomas Church in Thomaston, CT, the Thomaston Library, and the Thomaston Visiting Nurses Association. She was a member of the Connecticut Historical Society and, at the time of her death in 1995, was the curator of the Thomaston Historical Society.