Michael Hughes
Michael Hughes
Office: Tribble B-115
Phone: 336.758.5557
Region: Europe


Michael Hughes received his Ph.D., from the University of California, Berkeley, in Late Modern European History with a focus on 19th- and 20th-century Germany.  His earlier work was on the losers in Germany’s 100 trillion percent inflation, 1914-1923, and on West German efforts to compensate the war-damaged after World War II.  He is currently researching democratization in Germany.  Does democracy mean only that one may vote every few years but should then go home and “shut up” until the next election?  Or do citizens have a greater role than that?  And if so, what forms of political action are legitimate?  We can only understand when Germans became democrats if we understand what they—and we—think democracy means.


B.A.     Claremont McKenna College
M.A.     University of California, Berkeley
Ph.D.   University of California, Berkeley

Academic Appointments
Wake Forest University.  Professor; Associate Professor; Assistant Professor (1984-present)
Stanford University.  Visiting Assistant Professor (June-August 1984)

Administrative Appointments.
Chair, Department of History (1999-2003)

Click here for the complete CV.


  • HST 101 Mediterranean Civilizations to 1530
    Human beings have faced certain perennial problems as they tried to live their lives in complex societies.  We’ll explore their efforts to come to grips with these problems by focusing on a historically important but culturally diverse area of the world, the Mediterranean basin and its outliers, over an extended period of time.  Some of the problems that will concern us in the course are: the nature of divinity and people's relationship to the divine; the nature of evil; the nature and sources of human knowledge; the organization and legitimation of political power.  Two particular emphases will be environmental history (why did the Mediterranean remain a center of world power for 4500 years—and then become a backwater?) and cultural development and interaction (why and how did human groups develop different cultures within similar, neighboring environments and how did their interaction with one another affect their development?).  Americans are, perforce, cultural heirs to this part of the world, and a study of its development should give you some understanding of how the culture you live in—and some of your own attitudes and values—came to be.
  • HST 102 Europe and the Modern Era
    Europe was backward and poor, compared to China, India, and the Middle East, as late as the 17th and even 18th centuries.  But in the late 19th century it dominated and strongly influenced the world.  Brutal wars, 1914-1918 and 1939-1945, dramatically eroded its influence, as did economic development elsewhere in the world.  Yet it still remains rich and powerful.  Moreover, the Untied States derived its major institutions and values from its European origins.  This course will examine the ways in which Europe, in no small part through its interactions with the rest of the world, developed and exported, and other parts of the world in turn appropriated and adapted, the key ideologies and institutions that characterize the world in which we live.  We will talk about intellectual movements, economic development and competition, and political institutions and cultures; about bureaucracies, markets, corporations, trade unions, political parties, and social movements.  We’ll start in the 17th century and end with the collapse of communism and beginnings of our current, post-Cold War, world.
  • HST 219 Germany to Unification
    Social, economic, and political forces leading to the creation of a single German nation-state out of over 1700 sovereign and semi-soveriegn German states.
  • HST 220 Germany, Unification to Reunification
    For much of the 20th century, Germany was at the center of world history.  At first, it was a great power seeking to dominate Europe (ca. 1890 to 1945); then it became the center of the conflict between the United States and its liberal democratic allies on the one hand and the Soviet Union and its communist satellites on the other (1945 to 1990).  This course will examine the complex, fraught, and all-too-often horribly fascinating history of Germany, as it came together into a unified nation, set out to seize hegemony in Europe, collapsed in catastrophic defeat and division, and eventually managed to unify once again under very new conditions in 1990.  We will also be looking at how another industrial and post-industrial society grappled with the economic, political, and social problems that have challenged the nations of the world over the last 150 years.
  • HST 318 Weimar Germany
    This course is an exploration of the arts in Central Europe, 1905-1937, in historical context.  We will read novels, stories, and poems; view some of the best of the early films; listen to challenging and stimulating music; and look at vibrant and provocative paintings, etchings, woodprints, and sculptures.  All along we will be seeking to understand how these works of art, which speak to us still, are nonetheless rooted in a particular time and place, in the economic, social, and political institutions and developments of their day.
  • HST 369 Modern Military History
    After the Vietnam War, where the US won all the battles but lost the war, the Department of Defense and others began asking how that could have happened.  Similarly, Germany is widely held to have had the most competent military force in the world during the first half of the 20th century, yet managed to lose both world wars.  This course is designed to help Americans understand how countries actually win wars—by putting military experience in a broader political, economic, cultural, and social context.  We will talk about military technology, tactics, and strategy and about battles and wars, but we will always place them within the larger historical context.  We can’t understand how the narrowly military elements developed and how and why they were successfully—or unsuccessfully—deployed unless we recognize the complex range of factors that influence both military choices and ultimate outcomes.
  • HST 390 European Social and Political History, 1848-1989
    Students in this course will develop in consultation with the professor a research project in a topic of interest to them in recent European history.  They will do several assignments culminating in the writing of a 25- to 30-page paper on that topic.  Because of the need to use mostly primary sources for the paper, most papers will be on British or Irish history, though numerous students who have written (in English) papers on Spanish, French, German, or Italian history have used their foreign-language skills in those countries’ languages.

Monographs and Edited Collections

  • Shouldering the Burdens of Defeat: West Germany and the Reconstruction of Social Justice (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999).
  • Paying for the German Inflation (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1988).
  • “Mastering War’s Material Consequences in West Germany.  The Conceptual Background to the Lastenausgleich,” in Paul Erker, ed., Rechnung für Hitlers Krieg.  Aspekte und Probleme des Lastenausgleichs (Heidelberg: Verlag Regionalkultur, 2004).
  • “Just Deserts:  Virtue, Agency, and Property in Mid-Twentieth-Century Germany,” in Manfred Berg and Martin Geyer, eds., Two Cultures of Right.  The Quest for Inclusion and Participation in Modern America and Germany (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002).

For a complete list of publications, click CV.

Articles and Essays

  • “Civil Disobedience in Transnational Perspective.  American and West German Anti-Nuclear-Power Protesters, 1975-1982,” Historical Social Research 39:1 (2014), pp. 236-53.
  • “Reason, Emotion, Force, Violence: Modes of Demonstration as Conceptions of Political Citizenship in 1960s West Germany,” German History 30:2 (2012):  222-46.
  • “’The knife in the hands of the children’?  Debating the Political Mass Strike and Political Citizenship in Imperial Germany,” Labor History 50:2 (May 2009):  113-38.
  • “Splendid Demonstrations: The Political Funerals of Kaiser Wilhelm I and Wilhelm Liebknecht,” Central European History 41:2 (June 2008):  229-253.
  • “Selective Remembering, Selective Generosity: Restitution and Reconciliation in West Germany,” Proceedings of the American Historical Association, 2004.
  • “‘Through No Fault of Our Own.’  West Germans Remember Their War Losses,”  German History 18:2 (2000), 193-213.
  • “Hard Heads, Soft Money?  West German Ambivalence about Currency Reform, 1944-1948,”  German Studies Review XXI:2 (May 1998):  309-27.
  • “Restitution and Democracy in Germany after Two World Wars,” Contemporary European History 4:1 (March 1995):. 1-18.
  • “Lastenausgleich unter Sozialismusverdacht.  Amerikanische Besorgnisse 1945-1949,” Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte 39:1 (January 1991): 37-53.

For a complete list of publications, click CV.