Paul Betts is the keynote speaker for the Symposium Re-Forming Modernism: Craft, Design, and Architecture at the Bauhaus. His talk titled “The Shock of the Old: Some Reflections on the Bauhaus at 100” will take place on October 17, at 6 pm.

The centenary of the Bauhaus has spurred the dizzying production of new books, biographies and exhibitions about the international reach and general legacy of the twentieth century’s most celebrated design school long after its closure in Germany in 1933. However, the broad internationalization of the Bauhaus has obscured the ways in which it was fundamentally shaped by the hothouse politics of twentieth century German history. This lecture by contrast will focus on the changing relationship between the Bauhaus and German history more generally, with special attention devoted to the career of the Bauhaus’s most famous designer, Wilhelm Wagenfeld, as emblematic of the school’s legacy across twentieth century Germany and beyond.


Paul Betts teaches Modern European History at the University of Oxford, and is the author of numerous books and articles on Modern European and German cultural history. He received his PhD from the University of Chicago in 1995, and has held visiting fellowships in Potsdam, Munich and Paris. His published work includes Within Walls: Private Life in the German Democratic Republic (Oxford University Press, 2010, pb, 2012), which was awarded the Fraenkel Prize in Contemporary History by the Wiener Library, and The Authority of Everyday Objects: A Cultural History of West German Industrial Design (University of California Press, 2004, pb 2007), along with seven co-edited volumes, most recently The Ethics of Seeing: Photography and 20th Century German History (Berghahn, 2017). Currently he is completing a manuscript on Contest for Civilization: The Remaking of Europe since 1945.