Sophie De Schaepdrijver
- PhD, University of Amsterdam, 1990
- MA, Vrije Universiteit, 1983
I am a social and cultural historian of Western Europe (19th-20th centuries) with an interest in cities, the middle classes, civilian experiences of war, and nationalism. My research has first focused on 19th-century urban history, with articles on prostitution, city growth and migration, and urban planning. My first monograph studies foreign migration to Brussels in the 1840s and 1850s, when the fast-growing city became a national capital. It emphasizes the complexity of the urban labour market and the intricate choreography of migrants’ moves.
I then started research on Belgium in the First World War, a multifaceted and crucial episode on which little recent work existed. After publishing a prize-winning monograph in 1997, I continued work on this subject, and am writing a book on the Belgian experience of occupation - with attendant issues of resistance, accommodation, profiteering, and collaboration - and its long-term memory.
My next project entails a return to the “long 19th century” with an explicitly comparative perspective: it is a study of rentiership as a bourgeois ambition in Western Europe from c1790 to c1930. Less a study of wealth than of the ambivalence of ambition, the project seeks to contribute to our understanding of 19th-century perspectives on the market, on competition, ambition and careers, on mediocrity versus maximization, on obligations facing the self in society.
I have also written essays on themes in cultural studies (including 19th-century literature and World War One); these have been collected in a 2002 volume.
Elites for the Capital? Foreign Migration to Mid-Nineteenth-Century Brussels. Amsterdam: Thesis Publishers, 1990. Reviewed in Journal of Urban History, May 1997, Vol. 23 Issue 4, 460.
De Groote Oorlog: het Koninkrijk België in de Eerste Wereldoorlog. [The Great War: the kingdom of Belgium in the First World War]. Amsterdam: Atlas, 1997.
Revised French translation: La Belgique et la Première Guerre Mondiale, Berlin – New York, P.I.E.-Peter Lang, 2004.
Awards and Service:
Resident Fellow, Institute for the Arts and Humanities, Pennsylvania State University (2012)
Fellowship, Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies (2005-2006)
Belgian Free Speech Award (1999)
Fellowship, National Humanities Center (1995-1996)