Western University HistoryWestern Social Science

Eli Nathans

- Associate Professor

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PhD, Johns Hopkins University, 2001
Telephone: 519-661-2111 ext. 84977
Email: enathans@uwo.ca
Office: Lawson Hall 2217
Office Hours: Mondays 3:30-5:00pm


Research Interests

Professor Nathans' research interests include the laws and policies governing citizenship, especially in Germany, as well as courts, lawyers, and the administration of justice in Nazi Germany. His current research project highlights the cultural change in West Germany after 1945.


Teaching Philosophy

Historical study offers the opportunity to move beyond the limits of one's own time and place, to observe and analyze societies often radically different from one’s own. It enables students to examine patterns that are larger than an individual life or even of several lives. It explores the ways in which contemporary societies are the product of past experiences and choices, or perhaps break with their pasts. My classes emphasize the examination of original sources, including memoirs, private letters, philosophical and religious works, novels, and government documents. This diversity of sources offers many different perspectives and speaks to many different questions. I seek to develop students' ability to read critically and carefully, and to express themselves clearly and succinctly in discussions and in essays.

Major Research Projects

My current project is a study of the pioneering radio broadcasts and television documentaries about the United States made in the 1950s by the West German journalist Peter von Zahn. Part intellectual biography, part analysis of significant debates in West Germany, part study of an intensive encounter with the United States, the book helps explain the transformation of postwar West Germany. As a soldier in the Wehrmacht in World War II, Zahn held the militantly elitist views typical of young men in Germany’s educated middle class. He reconsidered these positions in his postwar broadcasts. At the same time he coldly assessed the capacity of the United States to win the Cold War. His broadcasts examined McCarthyism, the civil rights movement, as well as various aspects of American society, politics, and culture. Zahn’s broadcasts were one important voice in West German and European conversations about the defects and virtues of modern democratic societies and especially of the United States. Zahn’s analyses remain startlingly relevant today. The study should appear in 2017 with Palgrave Macmillan.


Selected Publications

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