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Cambridge Centre for Political Thought


Rosenöl und Deutscher Geist: The Fortunes of German Intellectual History

A film with English and German subtitles by Prof Richard Bourke (King's College, Cambridge) and Dr Dina Gusejnova (LSE). Conversations with historians of different generations about the history of the subdiscipline and its entanglements with German history. The film is fully subtitled in German and English.

A discussion forum took place on Thursday 29 October at 11:00 am PST / 2:00 pm EST / 6:00 pm GST.

The film can be viewed here.

The film features conversations with: Christopher Clark, Edith Hanke, Eva Marlene Hausteiner, Martin Jay, Wolf Lepenies, Suzanne Marchand, Wilfired Nippel, Martin Ruehl, Quentin Skinner and Barbara Stollberg-Rilinger.

Further details below.


Bourke Film Poster



22 October

Online publication at

29 October

Online discussion on the film at

The film discussion will be hosted by the Critical European Studies Research Network, @CESCritEuro.

CES Host: Nicholas Ostrum, Professor of History, University of New Orleans, Department of History and Philosophy


Samuel Moyn, Henry R. Luce Professor of Jurisprudence at Yale Law School and Professor of History at Yale University


Emily Levine, Associate Professor of Education at Stanford University

Robert Pippin, Evelyn Stefansson Nef Distinguished Service Professor of Social Thought, Philosophy, and in the College at the University of Chicago,


Richard Bourke, Professor of the History of Political Thought, Fellow of King's College, University of Cambridge

Dina Gusejnova, Assistant Professor, Department of International History, LSE


Berlin: Zeughauskino - Deutsches Historisches Museum

September 2021

Munich: Historikertag

Other locations (TBA)



"Rosenöl und Deutscher Geist: The Fortunes of German Intellectual History" presents the fortunes of a distinctly German phenomenon. In conversation with colleagues spanning three generations, Richard Bourke and Dina Gusejnova explore how the history of ideas declined in Germany after a period of innovation and prosperity that lasted through the long nineteenth century. Today intellectual history prevails in other parts of the globe. How did this come to pass?

In addressing this question, the film returns to numerous striking episodes, and collects and array of unexpected insights - including Christopher Clark on the absence of a specifically Prussian culture; Quentin Skinner and Wolf Lepenies on the lives of Albert Hirschmann; and Barbara Stollberg-Rilinger on the controversies of the 1980s. The film reflects on the shadow cast by Hegel and Burckhardt; the melancholy fate of Prussia; the theological roots of historicism; the Nazi appropriation of cultural history; the impact of exile and emigration; the re-establishment of democracy; and the historical profession since the 1960s.