James Retallack

James Retallack

Professor of History
Affiliated Faculty, Centre for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies






Room 120N, 1 Devonshire Place




After graduating from Trent University in 1978, I studied as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University and received my D.Phil. in 1983. I joined the University of Toronto in 1987, where I am now Professor of History and German Studies. I served as Chair of the German Department from 1999 to 2002.

I teach undergraduate and graduate courses, and supervise Ph.D. field preparations and dissertations, in German and European history from 1770 to 1945. My research has been assisted by grants and other awards from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the Gerda Henkel Foundation, the TransCoop Program, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the Jackman Humanities Institute at the University of Toronto, the SSHRC, the Killam Program at the Canada Council for the Arts, and the John S. Guggenheim Foundation. In 1993-4 I spent a year with my family at the Free University Berlin as a Humboldt Research Fellow and Visiting Professor in the Political Science department. I also held a Visiting Professorship in History at the University of Göttingen in 2002-3 when I was awarded the Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Prize by the Humboldt Foundation. I was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2011.

I have organized a number of international conferences at the University of Toronto and elsewhere. I sit on the Editorial Advisory Board of German History, the journal of the German History Society (UK). I also serve (with Simon Dixon and Mark Mazower) as General Editor of Oxford Studies in Modern European History.


I am currently on leave (2017-18) as a Guggenheim Research Fellow. My book Red Saxony: Election Battles and the Spectre of Democracy in Germany, 1860-1918 was published in April 2017. I published a related essay as “Mapping the Red Threat: The Politics of Exclusion in Leipzig before 1914,” Central European History 49, nos. 3/4 (December 2016), pp. 1–41: it recently won the Hans Rosenberg Article Prize for best article in 2015 and 2016, awarded by the Central European History Society of the American Historical Association. On 9 November 2017, in Berlin, I delivered the keynote address, “August Bebel: A Life for Social Democracy,” at the conference entitled “Practicing Democracy,” sponsored by the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation and the editorial board of Archiv für Sozialgeschichte.

Research interests

My research interests include German regional history, nationalism, antisemitism, Social Democracy, electoral politics, modern warfare, biography and historiography.

recent publications

Red Saxony: Election Battles and the Spectre of Democracy in Germany, 1860-1918. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017. ISBN: 978-0-19-966878-6. Cloth and Ebook. (30% discount flyer) (Description) (Overview and Table of Contents)

 Decades of Reconstruction: Postwar Societies, State-Building, and International Relations, from the Seven Years War to the Cold War, edited by Ute Planert and James Retallack. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017. ISBN: 978-1107165748. Cloth and Ebook. (20% discount flyer) (Description and Table of Contents)

working titles

The “Workers’ Emperor”: August Bebel’s Struggle for Social Justice and Democratic Reform in Germany and the World (1840-1913). Planned monograph in the early stages of research.

2nd revised edition of Forging an Empire: Bismarckian Germany (1866-1890), ed. James Retallack. Published online in English and German as volume 4 of the 10-volume digital history anthology, German History in Documents and Images. German Historical Institute, Washington, DC.  2nd edition commissioned 2016, in progress.

Newsletter Signup Sign up for the Munk School Newsletter

× Strict NO SPAM policy. We value your privacy, and will never share your contact info.