Professor Jane Caplan
Professor Jane Caplan is Visiting Professor at Birkbeck, University of London, and Emeritus Fellow at St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford. She is a world-renowned historian specialising in Nazi Germany and the history of the documentation of individual identity.
Prior to her position at Birkbeck, Professor Caplan was a Professor of Modern European History at the University of Oxford and Director of the European Studies Centre at St. Antony’s College, Oxford. She previously taught for 25 years in the USA, at the Pennsylvanian women’s liberal arts college, Bryn Mawr, and at Columbia University, New York. In her first academic role, as a Fellow of Newnham College Cambridge, she was involved in establishing one of Britain’s first university courses in women’s studies.
Professor Caplan has published an extensive and varied range of books, chapters and articles. Her work as editor includes the following books: Written on the Body: The Tattoo in European and American History (London/Princeton 2000), Documenting Individual Identity: The Development of State Practices in the Modern World (with John Torpey, Princeton 2001), The Women’s Camp in Moringen: A Memoir of Imprisonment in Germany (Oxford/New York 2006; German edn. 2009), Nazi Germany (Oxford 2008) and Concentration Camps in Nazi Germany: The New Histories (with Nikolaus Wachsmann; London 2010).
Professor Caplan is an editor of History Workshop Journal and founding editor of Signum: The International Society for Mark Studies. She has also been on the editorial boards of other academic journals including the American Historical Review, German History and the Journal of Modern History. She is a seasoned public speaker, having delivered invited public lectures at universities, research centres and museums across four continents. In 2008-10 she convened IdentiNet, an international network of scholars researching the history of identity and identification, funded by a grant to the University of Oxford from the Leverhulme Foundation.
Professor Caplan describes herself as “an eclectic historian”:
“… not someone who is committed to only one way of thinking and doing the subject. I think this reflects an attempt to integrate all the ways in which a sense of history has influenced me – my childhood fascination with the past; a rather formal 1960s Oxford training in empirical history; my time as research assistant to Arnold Toynbee; an involvement in political activism of various kinds, from political parties and trade unions to the feminist and gay movements; a developing consciousness of the history of popular politics; and a scepticism and irreverence for dogmatic excess, which I hope isn’t incompatible with a firm commitment to certain principles of justice and humanity. Since I hope that these will be better practiced in the future than they have been in the past, it has always seemed to me to be very instructive to study how (to paraphrase the words of a famous historian) we do make our own history, yet not under conditions of our own choosing but always with the weight of the past upon us. To me this means that if we can understand that past we may also free ourselves from some of its burdens.”
Her series of four lectures took place in June 2014 and was collected under the title, How do I know who you are? Proving identity in English and European history.
Professor Caplan said of the series:
"The lectures will focus on three signs or marks of identity: the personal name, handwriting and the signature, and the tattoo. Through these lectures, I will present the historical dimension of identification which is so often missing from current debates on identification, documentation and security".
All of Professor Caplan's past Gresham lectures can be accessed here.
Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA
Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA is Provost of Gresham College. He is a world-renowned historian and academic, with many of his books now acknowledged as seminal works in the field of modern history. He was Regius Professor of History at the University of Cambridge from 2008 until his retirement in September 2014.
In 2012 Sir Richard was appointed Knight Bachelor in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, for services to scholarship. In 2014 he was awarded the Historical Association’s Norton Medlicott Medal for his ‘outstanding contribution to History’, particularly through his ‘significant’ and ‘robust’ engagement in recent national debates about school curriculum reform and about the teaching and commemoration of the First World War. He has been a Fellow of the British Academy since 1993, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society since 1978 and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature since 2001. He was awarded the degree of Doctor of Letters honoris causa by London University in 2013.
Sir Richard has published 18 books as author and seven as editor. In 2008 he published the third part of his monumental large-scale history of the Third Reich, The Third Reich at War, which completed the series of The Coming of the Third Reich (2003) and The Third Reich in Power (2005). The series has sold more than 250,000 copies in English and has been translated into twelve foreign languages. His most recent book, Altered Pasts: Counterfactuals in History, was published to wide acclaim in January 2014. Prior to this his key publications include: Cosmopolitan Islanders: British Historians and the European Continent (2009), Telling Lies About Hitler: The Holocaust, History, and the David Irving Trial (2002), In Defence of History (1997), Rituals of Retribution (1996) and Death in Hamburg (1987), which won the Wolfson Foundation History Prize.
Sir Richard has a strong public engagement as an historian, including acting as principal expert witness in the David Irving libel trial before the High Court in London in 2000. He is currently Deputy Chair of the Spoliation Advisory Panel, a non-departmental public body which advises on claims for the return from public museums and galleries in the UK of artworks looted during the Nazi era.
Sir Richard has lectured extensively all over the world at a variety of literary festivals and events. He has been Editor of the Journal of Contemporary History since 1998 and a judge of the Wolfson History Prize since 1993.
He is a frequent contributor to the broadcast media and the press. His appearances on British television include BBC 1 (Sunday Politics with Andrew Neill) and Channel 4 News. His appearances on British Radio include BBC Radio 4 (Start the Week, In Our Time, Today and World at One), Radio 3 (Nightwaves) and Radio 2 (John Dunn Show). He has also appeared widely television and radio outside the UK, most notably on North German Radio/Television, West German Radio/Television and Radio Multikulti Berlin.
Sir Richard was Gresham Professor of Rhetoric between 2009 and 2013. His series of lectures were as follows:
2012/13 The Great Plagues: Epidemics in History from the Middle Ages to the Present Day
2011/12 The Rise and Fall of European Empires from the 16th to the 20th Century
2010/11 The Victorians: Culture and Experience in Britain, Europe and the World, 1815-1914
2009/10 War and Peace in Europe: From Napoleon to the Kaiser
Previously, he delivered two series of lectures as Visiting Professor of History.
All of Professor Evans' past Gresham lectures can be accessed here.