The Yuh Prosthodontics Lecture
There’s a certain, well-known image we have of Karl Marx: the bearded prophet, a fierce critic of capitalism and initial figure in a line of similarly hirsute gentlemen—Engels, Lenin, Stalin—who shaped twentieth century communism. With the sudden end to communism in 1989, this Marx became obsolete, at least until 2008, when the global financial crisis revived an interest in his ideas. This lecture will contrast the familiar Marx, a figure of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, with the Marx of the nineteenth century in which he lived, doing so by emphasizing four important but little-known features of his life. Two of these features—that Marx was a prolific journalist, and that Marx was a Protestant—are not just little-known, but go very much against our usual impressions of him. The other two features, that Marx was an economist, and a revolutionary, are rather more familiar, but, as will be seen, both Marx’s economic theories and his revolutionary aspirations had a very different meaning in his lifetime than they possess today. The conclusion of the talk will compare the well-known and unknown Karl Marx to offer a more complete picture of his life and legacy.
Speaker: Jonathan Sperber
Jonathan Sperber is Curators’ Distinguished Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Missouri. He has written extensively on German and modern European history. Among his books are Rhineland Radicals: The Democratic Movement and the Revolution of 1848/49 (1991); The European Revolutions, 1848 – 1851 (2nd. edition 2005); The Kaiser’s Voters: Electors and Elections in Imperial Germany (1997) Property and Civil Society in Southwestern Germany 1820 – 1914 (2005) and, most recently, Karl Marx: A Nineteenth Century Life (2013). This Marx biography has been translated into nine foreign languages. It was a finalist (runner-up) for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in biography; the German-language edition of the book, Karl Marx. Sein Leben und sein Jahrhundert was named by the German popular history magazine Damals [Back Then] as the 2013 history book of the year. The worldwide reception of the Marx biography—which included interviews on German, Swiss, British, Australian, French and Irish radio, written interviews with magazines in India, China and Iran, and appearances on Slovenian TV and with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show—has stimulated a long-standing interest in history on a global scale. Sperber’s current project is just such a global history of the second half of the twentieth century, “The Age of Interconnection.” It is under contract with Oxford University Press and should be appearing in print around 2022.