Dr Katharina Friege

Subject: History

Academic position: Lecturer in History

It is people, and the stories people told – about their experiences, their societies, and their era – that interest me most in the study of history. I try to understand how individuals encountered, adapted to, or resisted the social changes they perceived to be affecting their lives. I am particularly fascinated by the broader media- and culture-based narrative frameworks they drew on to make sense of themselves and their surroundings.

My research focuses on German history in the twentieth century, where my main interests centre on gender, media, mobility, cultural discourse, and national identity. My doctoral dissertation explores the lives of a small cast of heterogenous female writers, journalists, and photographers who were originally from Germany but spent significant periods of time abroad between the early 1920s and late 1940s. Points of tension arose as these women sought to navigate collective notions of belonging while also remaining committed to their sense of individuality and independence. Their lives and experiences showcase the sometimes precarious and often contradictory balance between culture as overarching structure and subjective adoption – collective identities may be established and internalized through shared frameworks of belonging, but they are simultaneously interpreted and renegotiated at the level of the individual. This research is informed by a transnational perspective on gender relations, by the study of transforming media landscapes in the first half of the twentieth century, and by an understanding of mobility as both a geographic and symbolic phenomenon.

I am also interested in the cultural imagination and lived experience of place and space, in the history of emotions and subjectivity, in expressions of national identity, and in the relationship between literary and historical narratives.