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Professor Jan Rueger

Head of Department

MA (Munich), PhD (Cambridge)
Professor of History

Contact details

Department of History, Classics and Archaeology
Birkbeck, University of London
Room 213
27 Russell Square

Tel: 020 7631 6558


  • Jan Rueger joined the department in 2003, after holding a post-doctoral fellowship at Yale University.

Research interests

  • Britain and Germany in Europe and the world. My new book, Heligoland: Britain, Germany and the Struggle for the North Sea, is a microhistory of the Anglo-German relationship as it unfolded from the Napoleonic Wars to the Cold War. It takes the North Sea island of Heligoland as a prism through which to view rivalry, conflict and, eventually, reconciliation between the two nations. The project has made me engage more with the intersections of national, imperial, European and world histories, on which I reflect in a number of recent and forthcoming publications.


  • Modern Europe from 1800 (BA)
  • Problems of Explanation and Interpretation (BA)
  • Contested Nation: Germany in the Age of Empire (BA)
  • Empires in Comparison (BA)
  • Britain and Germany: the History of a Relationship (MA)
  • Technology, Modernity and the Nation (MA)
  • London and Berlin in the Age of Empire (MA)
  • Cultures of War? Imperial Germany, Japan and Italy (MA)

PhD supervision

  • Current and recently completed PhD topics include:
    • Learned societies and the ancient national past in Britain, France and Germany, 1830-1890
    • The evolution of British official attitudes towards civil war, 1900-1925
    • Heroism and exploration in Victorian Britain
    • Elections and political culture in Mecklenburg, 1848-1918
    • Stereoscopic viewing and visual culture in Imperial Germany and the Weimar Republic


  • History after Hobsbawm: Writing the Past for the Twenty-First Century, co-edited with John Arnold and Matthew Hilton (Oxford University Press, 2018)
  • ‘Writing Europe into the History of the British Empire’, in John Arnold, Matthew Hilton and Jan Rüger (eds.), History after Hobsbawm (Oxford University Press, 2018)
  • Heligoland: Britain, Germany and the Struggle for the North Sea (Oxford University Press, 2017)
  • Rewriting German History, co-edited with Nikolaus Wachsmann (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015)
  • ‘Sovereignty and Empire in the North Sea, 1807-1918’, American Historical Review, 119 (2014)
  • ‘Imperial Germany and the Sea’, in Matthey Jefferies (ed.), The Ashgate Research Companion to Imperial Germany (Ashgate, 2014)
  • ‘Britain, Empire, Europe: Re-Reading Eric Hobsbawm’, Journal of Modern European History, 11 (2013)
  • ‘Insularity and Empire in the Late Nineteenth Century’, in Miles Taylor (ed.), The Victorian Empire and Britain's Maritime World, 1837-1901: The Sea and World History (Palgrave, 2013)
  • ‘Revisiting the Anglo-German Antagonism’, Journal of Modern History, 83 (2011)
  • ‘S’amuser en guerre’, Histoire Urbaine 31 (2011)
  • ‘The Symbolic Value of the Dreadnought’, in Robert Blyth, Andrew Lambert and Jan Rüger (eds.), The Dreadnought and the Edwardian Age (Ashgate, 2011)
  • The Dreadnought and the Edwardian Age, co-edited with Robert Blyth and Andrew Lambert (Ashgate, 2011)
  • ‘OXO: or, The Challenges of Transnational History’, European History Quarterly, 40 (2010)
  • ‘Laughter and War in Berlin’, History Workshop Journal, 67 (2009)
  • ‘In the Imaginative Fashion of Teutons’, in Robert Gerwarth and Dominik Geppert (eds.), Wilhelmine Germany and Edwardian Britain: Cultural Contacts and Transfers (Oxford University Press, 2008)
  • The Great Naval Game: Britain and Germany in the Age of Empire (Cambridge University Press, 2007)
  • ‘Entertainments’, in Jay Winter and Jean-Louis Robert (eds.), Capital Cities at War: Paris London, Berlin 1914-1919, vol. 2, A Cultural History (Cambridge University Press, 2007)
  • ‘Die Berliner Schnauze im Ersten Weltkrieg’, in Thomas Biskup and Marc Schalenberg (eds.), Selling Berlin: Imagebildung und Stadtmarketing von der preußischen Residenz bis zur Bundeshauptstadt (Steiner, 2007)
  • ‘The Last Word in Outward Splendour: The Cult of the Navy and the Imperial Age’, in David Stevens (ed.), The Navy and the Nation (Allen & Unwin, 2005)
  • ‘Das U-Boot’, in Alexa Geisthövel and Habbo Knoch (eds.), Orte der Moderne (Campus, 2005)
  • ‘Nation, Empire and Navy: Identity Politics in the United Kingdom, 1887-1914’, Past & Present 185 (2004)

Professional membership

  • Royal Historical Society
  • American Historical Association