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Faculty Fellow

Alice Goff

Assistant Professor of German History and the College University of Chicago


Photo by Annette Hornischer, American Academy in Berlin

Alice Goff is a historian of the cultural and intellectual life of modern Germany. Her research and teaching center on the history of museums, archives, material culture, and the looting of cultural property in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Her first book, The God Behind the Marble: The Fate of Art in the German Aesthetic State (University of Chicago Press, forthcoming January 2024), is a history of the German project to make art an author of liberal society in the first decades of the nineteenth century. The book tells this story by following the displacement of German art collections during the Napoleonic Wars, showing how the intellectual faith in the power of art collided with a period of acute vulnerability of art objects with lasting consequences for the administration of art in the modern period. Goff is currently at work on a second book, Postwar Premodern: A Baroque History of Postwar Germany, on the history of early modern art and culture in Germany after 1945. Focusing on a range of postwar initiatives in East and West Germany, from recreations of cabinets of curiosity to the restitution of church bells to elementary school handwriting reforms, Postwar Premodern asks how, among the proliferating critiques of modernity in the wake of Nazism and the Holocaust, the period before 1800 became an alluring resource for imagining the future of German society.


Ewa Faryaszewska, Old Town Warsaw, August 1944, Agfacolor film, Warsaw Museum. Faryaszweska, an art student, took this color photograph shortly before her death while working to preserve cultural monuments during the Warsaw Uprising.

Histories of Culture in Disastrous Times

Project Team:

2023 – 2025