Lora Wildenthal

Interim Dean of Humanities
Associate Dean of Humanities
Professor of History
Faculty Affiliate, Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality
Ph.D. University of Michigan, 1994
B.A. Rice University, 1987
713-348-4810
116 Humanities
Areas of Interest: 
  • Modern Germany
  • European Women and Gender
  • Human Rights
  • Modern Colonialism
Research and Teaching: 

I am embarking on a third research project on the history of the meanings of wages, with a focus on the era of the Prussian reforms (the early 1800s, during and after the Napoleonic era).  I am interested generally these days in the history of money, labor rights as human rights, and the history of the study of wages.  Also, together with Prof. Jean Quataert of Binghamton University, I am co-editing the Routledge History of Human Rights, a volume of ca. 40 essays under contract.

My second book is The Language of Human Rights in West Germany (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013). It explores questions such as:  What causes have West Germans considered to be “human rights” causes? And how does contextualization of international human rights activism in the activists’ own domestic setting change our understanding of their work? The book has been well received; for some reviews, please click here.  To read the introduction, please click here.  More recently, I have published a short piece on an NGO not discussed in the book, the Society for Threatened Peoples (Gesellschaft für bedrohte Völker).  You can read it here.

My first book was German Women for Empire, 1884-1945 (Duke University Press, 2001). It analyzes German women’s participation in Europe’s most intense period of imperial expansion, and especially white German men’s and women’s ideas about racial classification.  The book has also been well received; for some reviews, please click here.

My published scholarship is available through Rice’s Open Access policy.  Click here

A brief c.v. is posted above.  If you want to see a longer c.v., click here

I teach 100-level surveys (HIST 108 “World History since 1492” and maybe one day again HIST 102 “Modern Europe, 1789-present”), and also upper-level courses on modern Germany, the history of feminism (HIST 340/ SWGS 345 “History of Feminism”), human rights (HIST 455 “History of Human Rights” and FWIS 169 "What are Human Rights?), and labor history (HIST 305 "Histories of Work").

Undergraduate research is important to me.  I welcome inquiries from students interested in independent research projects for a summer- or semester-long project, or for a year-long History honors thesis, Mellon Mays, or Rice Undergraduate Scholars Program (RUSP) thesis.  In the past, students have independently developed and researched topics such as these, with my assistance:  feminist thought in the emergence of contact improvisational dance; medical personnel’s complicity in torture; and German émigrés’ work in the Office of Strategic Services during World War II.  My courses HIST 455 and HIST 459 require research with original sources to produce papers ca. 25 pages in length. I served as co-instructor for RUSP 2006-2010 and 2014-2017, and highly recommend it to students.  See ccl.rice.edu/students/learn/undergraduate-research/rice-undergraduate-scholars-program-rusp/

A few years ago my colleagues and I decided that we would no longer accept graduate students intending to focus on German history.  I do not serve as dissertation director for any students, and do not plan to.  I am glad to advise people interested in applying to graduate school elsewhere in German history, however.  I am happy to offer fields to our department graduate students when that fits their interests.  Usually this has taken the form of a general examination field in the history of women and gender, based on a combination of graduate courses taken through CSWGS  and directed readings with me.  I would also be glad to serve on dissertation committees when appropriate, and have done so for doctoral students at Rice in English, Anthropology, and Music. I am moreover willing to teach graduate courses in the department as needed; in the past, these have included courses on human rights, nationalism, the history of women and gender, and the department’s Pedagogy Seminar for graduate students.

I received my Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1994, and came to Rice in 2003 after teaching at Pitzer College, M.I.T., and Texas A&M University.

Selected Publications: 
  • “The Reincarnations of the German League for Human Rights in Occupied and West Germany.” Invited chapter for: Human Rights Leagues in Europe (1898-2016), 95-122. Ed. Wolfgang Schmale and Christoph Treiblmayr. In series Historische Mitteilungen, vol. 98. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner, 2017.
  • “Imagining Threatened Peoples:  The Society for Threatened Peoples (Gesellschaft für bedrohte Völker) in 1970s West Germany.”  In Imagining Human Rights, 101-117.  Ed. Susanne Kaul and David Kim. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2015.
  • The Language of Human Rights in West Germany (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012).
  • German Women for Empire, 1884-1945 (Duke University Press, 2001).