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Sophie De Schaepdrijver

Sophie De Schaepdrijver

Associate Professor of History

313 Weaver Building
University Park , PA 16802
Office Phone: (814) 865-3797

Curriculum Vitae

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  1. PhD, University of Amsterdam, 1990
  2. 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.

Recent Publications:

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)

Recent Courses:

HIST002 - The Western Heritage II
HIST120U - Europe Since 1848

Research Interests:

Modern Europe:
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