MO3329 The Kaiser. Aspects of Emperor Wilhelm II, 1859-1941
Lecturer Dr Claudia Kreklau (St Katharine's Lodge, room 2.26 )
Credits 30
Availability Semester 2, 2019-20
Class Hour view timetable
Description Revered as the "modern central person" or described as simply insane, Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm II (1859 - 1941) played a central and highly visible role on the European political stage. Over the last 25 years the fascination this mercurial and deeply problematic ruler held for his contemporaries has been echoed by a large body of sophisticated historical scholarship. Focusing on Wilhelm's personality and his politics as well as on the context and structure of his reign, historians have explored the importance of key issues such as psychological trauma, disease, media, publicity, scandal, monarchial networks, modern kingship and political culture. This module will examine selected aspects of the life of Wilhelm II in order to arrive at an analytical evaluation of this individual and his impact as well as of the wider political and cultural world which he inhabited.

Basic Reading
  • Christopher Clark, Kaiser Wilhelm II. A Life in Power (London, 2009)
  • David Blackbourn, The Long Nineteenth Century. A History of Germany 1780-1918 (New York, 1998)
  • Matthew Jefferies, Contesting the German Empire, 1871-1918 (Oxford, 2008)
  • John C. G. Röhl, The Kaiser and his Court: Wilhelm II and the Government of Germany (Cambridge, 1994)

Course Structure

      • Course Introduction
      • Damaged Goods: Childhood Trauma, Imperial Delusion and other Psycho-Historical Perspectives
      • Mentor and Menace: Bismarck's Relationship with William
      • After Bismarck: the Kaiser's Personal Regiment
      • “Full Steam Ahead”: the Kaiser, his navy and Weltpolitik
      • William II as the “Modern Central Person”: Media, Science and Technology
      • “Kaiser Bill”: Wilhelm II and Britain
      • Monarchy and Scandal I: the Harden-Eulenburg Affair
      • Monarchy and Scandal II: the Daily-Telegraph Affair
      • From Warlord to Exile: World War One and Beyond
      • Conclusion and Course Review

60% examination – NB unusual exam format

  • Take-home exam (duration tbc)
  • 3 (out of 6) questions to be answered
  • Electronic submission
  • Strict maximum total word limit of 4,500

40% coursework

  • one essay (3,000 words) – 45% of coursework component
  • one comparative book review (1,500 words) – 15% of coursework component
  • participation in a teamwork assignment – 40% of coursework component

Learning Outcomes

Restrictions None
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