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Darcy Buerkle

Professor of History

Darcy Buerkle headshot


Seelye 409


Darcy Buerkle is Professor of History at Smith College where she served as chair of the department from 2018- 2021. Professor Buerkle has held the Walter Benjamin Chair in German Jewish History and Culture at the Humboldt University-Berlin and from 2014 to January 2016 she was director of the Five College Women’s Studies Research Center. She is a current elected member of Smith’s Faculty Council (2020-2024) and will serve as its chair in 2023-24. 

Buerkle has been honored with two teaching awards granted by the Student Government Association at Smith. Her typical course offerings include surveys in European women's and gender history (HST 252 and HST 253), in addition to a range of colloquia and seminars such as Memory and History (HST 246) and Recent Historiographic Debates in Gender and Sexuality (HST 286). She teaches advanced topical seminars (HST 350 and HST 355), recent topics include: Gender and the Holocaust, Gender and the Archive, Blackness in Europe and Histories of Humanitarianism. In Fall 2023, she will offer a new topical course, HST 290: Gender and the Archive; the topic in its first iteration will be Smith’s own history, broadly conceived.

Her research focuses on modern European women's and gender history with an emphasis on German and German Jewish women's intellectual and cultural history. She has worked extensively on the history of emotion and German visual culture of the early 20th century. Buerkle’s first book, Nothing Happened: Charlotte Salomon and an Archive of Suicide, was published in December 2013 by the University of Michigan Press; a co-edited volume published by the University of Wisconsin Press with Skye Doney and titled Contemporary Europe in the Historical Imagination will appear in June 2023. Professor Buerkle is the author of numerous journal articles; Smith students may be especially interested in an essay on Käthe Kollwitz and Smith College (2017) as well as others in which she has written about teaching at Smith: In 2020, “On Trigger Warnings and Their Antecedents: Rethinking the Demands of Holocaust Pedagogy,” reflected on the teaching of a Smith College seminar on gender and the Holocaust in collaboration with Central European University just as forces consolidated against its presence in Budapest. A 2021 essay about teaching gendered violence at Smith during the years 2016-2020 is entitled, “Falling Down on the Job or On Revulsion.”

She is currently working on two single-authored book projects: 1) The Force of Elsewhere: Fred Zinnemann’s Films 1940–1960, in which she explores the visual rhetoric of departure and landscape as signal and recurring moments in Zinnemann’s oeuvre and 2) Gender, Guilt, and Democracy 1945–1960, which charts women’s contributions to the question of postwar German guilt and the related matters of retribution, and redress through democratic education. In this project, Buerkle seeks a transnational and racialized telling of gendered involvement on the matters of democracy and moral injury, and the possibility of reconciliation and related political action.

Professor Buerkle is in residence in 2023-24, serving as Director of Honors in History. Students who wish to have access to a list of Honors projects she has supervised can find them here, along with bibliographic information for some of her publications.


Office Hours

Spring 2023

By appointment (via Zoom)

Selected Works in Smith ScholarWorks