Fire and Blood Symposium

Event date: 
October 13, 2016 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm
Enzo Traverso
Cornell University
Philip Nord
Princeton University
Anson Rabinbach
Princeton University
Ruth Ben-Ghiat
New York University

A symposium focusing on Enzo Traverso's book, Fire and Blood: The European Civil War 1914-1945. Symposium participants include:  Phillip Nord (Princeton University), Ruth Ben-Ghiat (New York University), Anson Rabinbach (Princeton University) , and Enzo Traverso (Cornell University).

This event is open to the public and all are invited to attend. A book signing with the author will immediately follow. Labyrinth Books will be on-site selling copies of Fire and Blood.

About the Author:

Enzo Traverso is Susan and Barton Winokur Professor in the Humanities at Cornell University. He studied at the University of Genoa, Italy, and received his Ph.D. from the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris (1989). Until 2013, he was a professor of political science at the University Jules Verne of Picardy, France, and a member of the French CNRS. He specializes in contemporary Europe, focusing on intellectual history of the twentieth century. He has also been visiting professor at several European as well as Latin American Universities. His publications include The Origins of Nazi Violence (2003); Fire and Blood: The European Civil War (2016); The End of Jewish Modernity: History of a Conservative Turn (2016); Left-Wing Melancholia: Marxism, History and Memory (forthcoming 2016).

About Fire and Blood:

Fire and Blood looks at the European crisis of the two world wars as a single historical sequence: the age of the European Civil War (1914–1945). Its overture was played out in the trenches of the Great War; its coda on a ruined continent. It opened with conventional declarations of war and finished with “unconditional surrender.” Proclamations of national unity led to eventual devastation, with entire countries torn to pieces. During these three decades of deepening conflicts, a classical interstate conflict morphed into a global civil war, abandoning rules of engagement and fought by irreducible enemies rather than legitimate adversaries, each seeking the annihilation of its opponents. It was a time of both unchained passions and industrial, rationalized massacre. Utilizing multiple sources, Enzo Traverso depicts the dialectic of this era of wars, revolutions and genocides. Rejecting commonplace notions of “totalitarian evil,” he rediscovers the feelings and reinterprets the ideas of an age of intellectual and political commitment when Europe shaped world history with its own collapse.

About Ruth Ben-Ghiat:

Ruth Ben-Ghiat (@ruthbenghiat) is Professor of History and Italian Studies at New York University. Her scholarship on 20th century international, political, and cultural history, with a special focus on Italy, has been supported by Guggenheim, Getty, Fulbright, Library of Congress, NEH, and other fellowships.

Her latest books are the award-winning Italian Fascism's Empire Cinema (Indiana, 2015), a study of the meeting of war and film in the service of Mussolini’s imperial conquests, and the co-edited Italian Mobilities (Routledge, 2015), which places timely issues of migration, circulation, and citizenship in historical context. She is currently writing Prisoners of War: Italians in German, French, and British Captivity, 1940-1950, for Princeton University Press.

Ben-Ghiat also writes frequently for the media on politics, history, and images. Since fall 2015 she’s covered the Presidential election and Donald Trump for She also writes for The Atlantic and The Huffington Post. She sits on the Board of Directors of the World Policy Institute.

About Philip Nord:

Philip Nord studies the political and cultural history of modern France. After earning his B.A. from Columbia University in 1971, Professor Nord went to Balliol College, Oxford University on a Kellett Fellowship to study politics (B. Phil. in 1973). He began teaching at Princeton in 1981 and received his Ph.D. in European history from Columbia the following year. Professor Nord’s first book, Paris Shopkeepers and the Politics of Resentment (1986), follows the birth and political evolution of an influential small-business protest movement in late-19th-century Paris. In The Republican Moment: Struggles for Democracy in Nineteenth-Century France (1995), Nord traces the slow advance of democratic ideas and practices through the institutions of French civil society to explain how and why a lasting republican government took root in France in the 19th century. Nord’s next book, Impressionists and Politics: Art and Democracy in the Nineteenth Century (2000) examines the intersection between Impressionism and republicanism. He is also the coeditor with Nancy Bermeo of Civil Society before Democracy: Lessons from Nineteenth-Century Europe (2000). Professor Nord was Chair of the History Department from 1995 to 2001, and the director of the Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies from 2012-2016. He is affiliated with the French department and the European Politics and Society Program. In 2005 he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to complete research on a book examining the remaking of the French state at the Liberation. That book was published in 2010 under the title France’s New Deal: From the Thirties to the Postwar Era.

About Anson Rabinbach:

Anson Rabinbach is a specialist in modern European history with an emphasis on intellectual and cultural history. He has published extensively on Nazi Germany, Austria, and European thought in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In 1974 he co-founded the premier journal of German studies in the United States, New German Critique, which he continues to co-edit. In 1979 he published The Crisis of Austrian Socialism: From Red Vienna to Civil War 1927-1934, a study of Austrian culture and politics between the wars. The Human Motor, an investigation of the metaphor of work and energy that provided modern thinkers with a new scientific and cultural framework to understand the human body, appeared in 1991 and has since been translated into several languages. His study of 20th century German intellectuals, In the Shadow of Catastrophe: German Intellectuals between Enlightenment and Apocalypse, was published in 1997. The Third Reich Sourcebook (with Sander L. Gilman), a collection of more than 400 documents with critical introductions, appeared in July 2013. His current research is on concepts invented in the 20th century, including “totalitarianism” and genocide. It emphasizes World War II exchanges between European and American intellectuals. He also writes and reviews widely for journals of opinion including The New York Times, The Times Literary Supplement, Dissent, and The Nation. He received the Viktor Adler State Prize in 1987. Professor Rabinbach has also been the recipient of Guggenheim, ACLS, and NEH fellowships.

He teaches courses on 20th Century Europe, History of European Fascism, the Transatlantic Sixties, and graduate courses on European Intellectual History and Interwar Europe. He is a former director of the Program in European Cultural Studies.

Jennifer Loessy
Area of Interest: 
Political History
War & Society
20th Century