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Professor Mark Cornwall 

Professor of Modern European History, PG marketing

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Professor Mark Cornwall is a Professor of Modern European History at the University of Southampton.

I am a historian of modern East-Central Europe (19th and 20th centuries), specialising in:

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Research interests

Key research projects at the moment are:

1. Treason and Loyalty in the Late Habsburg Monarchy. This new project builds on my previous research into the collapse of Austria-Hungary: The Undermining of Austria-Hungary (2000) and The Last Years of Austria-Hungary (2002).

It explores shifting allegiances and loyalties in the Habsburg Empire during its last 20 years and involves three case studies, analysed both in peacetime (pre-1914) and wartime: 1) the Bohemian lands and the Czech-German relationship; 2) dynastic and national loyalties in Hungary; 3) the Southern Slav crisis (with a particular focus on Croatia). In each of these regions of the Monarchy, there developed a perceived ‘crisis' which challenged stability, if not the existence, of the Empire. The project uses the concepts of treason and loyalty to set out a new framework for considering why Austria-Hungary lost legitimacy and collapsed at the end of the Great War.

2. Youth and Nationalism in the Bohemian Lands. This has resulted in a book, The Devil's Wall: The Nationalist Youth Mission of Heinz Rutha (Harvard University Press, 2012).  It won the 2013 book prize of the Czechoslovak Studies Association. Through the short life of Heinz Rutha (1897-1937) I explore the impact of the Great War on a generation of Sudeten German youths and challenge historical stereotypes about interwar Czechoslovakia and the background to the Munich Crisis of 1938.

  • The book also opens up the question of homosexuality in the environment of Sudeten German nationalism: through the homoerotic atmosphere of the youth movement, through Rutha's own sexuality, and in the ways in which he trained a cohort of Sudeten youth to become the vanguard of a Sudeten revival in Bohemian space.
  • As the foreign minister of Konrad Henlein (1935-7), Rutha's career also offers us much to explain the Czech international crisis of these years and why Great Britain viewed the Sudeten Germans as having a just cause.
  • The book is based on rich archival material and oral testimony. Not least it is a new study of the construction of Sudeten German identity after the Great War.

3. Sacrifice and Regeneration: The Legacy of the Habsburgs' Last War. This edited book, due to appear in 2015 (Berghahn Press), is the result of a project at the University of Southampton tied to a three-year Arts and Humanities Research Council project entitled ‘Memoralisation and Regeneration: The Male Wartime Generation in the Successor States 1918-1930'. The volume analyses how Austria-Hungary's last war was remembered in the Successor States and how war veterans coped with the transition from Empire to independent ‘national states'. It consists of a dozen case studies on the project theme, ranging comparatively across the ex-Habsburg lands.

4. Homosexuality in East Central Europe. This is an on-going interest and so far (apart from the case study of Heinz Rutha) has produced unpublished papers on Czech lesbians; violence in the Czech homosexual world; surveillance in the Second World War. I plan to bring these papers together as an edited collection.

  • See also the new LGBT Research Community website for further information about LGBT Research at the University of Southampton.
  • I organize the annual Southampton Stonewall Lecture at the university. The speaker on 13 February 2014 will be Professor Laura Doan (University of Manchester).

Professional work:

  • Forum of British, Czech and Slovak Historians. I am chair of this organisation, set up in 2000 by the Czech ambassador to the UK, Dr Pavel Seifter. The Forum's purpose is to promote academic ties and research between historians in Britain and the Czech and Slovak Republics. So far it has held five international conferences: Dundee (2002); Pardubice (2004); Topolcianky (2006); Oxford (2009); Prague (2013). It also hosts the annual Masaryk lecture which in 2013 was given by Dr Kieran Williams at the Slovak Embassy.
  • Great War: Unknown War. I am coordinating the events at the University of Southampton in 2014-15 to mark the anniversary of the First World War. These include a special conference on ‘Sarajevo 1914'; musical concerts; workshops and lifelong-learning events about war; special exhibitions at the Hartley Library.  Website to be launched very soon.

Click here to hear Professor Cornwall talking about his inaugural lecture.

The Devil's Wall book cover
The Devil's Wall book cover



Book Section(s)

Areas where I can offer postgraduate supervision:

I can offer supervision in most areas of East-Central European History in the 19th and 20th centuries. In particular I welcome research on:

  • Any aspect of the Habsburg Empire (1780-1918), nationalism and national identity in the eastern half of Europe.
  • The Successor States: especially Czechoslovakia (including the Sudeten Germans), Hungary, and the rise and fall of Yugoslavia in the 20th century.
  • The origins of the First World War, the war and the Peace Settlement of 1919-1920 (I currently have postgraduates working on memory and commemoration of the war in the Successor States of Austria-Hungary).
  • Gender history (especially masculinity); Diplomatic history; interdisciplinary work on the Czech, Hungarian or Yugoslav regions.
Professor Mark Cornwall
Building 65 Faculty of Humanities University of Southampton Avenue Campus Highfield Southampton SO17 1BF United Kingdom

Room Number: 65/2071

Telephone: (023) 8059 4868

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