Jonathan R. Zatlin
- HIS 405, Fall ’14 Hours: R 10-12 (KHC); by appointment (HIS)
Associate Professor of History
B.A., Yale University; Ph.D., University of California at Berkeley
Modern European history, modern German history, Jewish history, economic and social history of Europe
After a brief stint at MIT, Jonathan R. Zatlin came to BU in 2002, where he has been an active teacher and scholar. His lecture course on twentieth-century German history won the 2008 prize for best syllabus from H-German, the online association of Germanists. He is also Associate Director of the Arvind and Chandan Nandlal Kilachand Honors College at BU, which takes an innovative and multidisciplinary approach to undergraduate education. Zatlin is an Affiliate at Harvard’s Minda de Gunzberg Center for European Studies, a Non-Resident Fellow at the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies at Johns Hopkins University, and convenes the Boston German History Workshop, an informal discussion group for local scholars of German history. He is currently serving a three-year term on the executive board of the Central European History Society.
Zatlin has written widely on the history of German communism, from Marxist economic theory, Soviet-style economic planning,socialist consumer policy, the East German automobile industry, and women’s lingerie to popular opinion under communism, the East German secret police, racism in Soviet-style regimes, and the politics of German unification. He is the author of The Currency of Socialism: Money and Political Culture in East Germany (Cambridge University Press, 2007), which was named a finalist for the President’s Book Award of the Social Science History Association in 2006. He also co-edited Selling Modernity: German Advertising in the Twentieth Century (Duke University Press, 2007) with Pamela E. Swett and S. Jonathan Wiesen. His work has appeared in English, French, and German, and in such scholarly journals as Central European History, Contemporary European History, German History, German Politics and Society, and Zeitschrift für Geschichstwissenschaft.
Zatlin’s current research investigates the link between race and economy in modern European history, focusing on the experience of German Jews. Entitled Jews and Money: Economic Change and Cultural Anxiety in Germany, 1870-1990, this monograph argues that anti-Semitism was based on a peculiarly European confusion of money with the market and Jews with money. This double confusion provided psychological relief and economic compensation for the widespread anxiety, triggered by Germany’s rapid industrialization, that market-oriented practices were reducing spiritual to financial values, and contributed to racialized understandings of economic activity and citizenship. By analyzing the lives of Jewish economists and entrepreneurs, usury trials, financial scandals, and violence against Jews, Jews and Money traces the fortunes and misfortunes of Jews and their detractors in modern German history. Zatlin is also writing a short history of the German Democratic Republic entitled State of Paranoia: The East German Dictatorship, 1949-1989.
Zatlin’s scholarship has been supported by a number of grants, including an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Fellowship for Experienced Scholars, a Charles A. Ryskamp Fellowship of the American Council of Learned Society, a Fulbright Fellowship, a Faculty Research Fellowship of the German Academic Exchange Service, a Social Science Research Council Fellowship, and a Chancellor’s Dissertation-Year Fellowship from the University of California at Berkeley. In 2001, he won the Fritz Stern Dissertation Prize awarded by the German Historical Institute. His article, “Integrating without Unifying: The East German Collapse and German Unity,” won the 2010 Hans Rosenberg Article prize of the Central European History Society. In 2011, he was awarded the DAAD Prize for Distinguished Scholarship in German and European Studies.