I am a historian of twentieth-century Europe, specialising in modern German history, queer history and the history of sexuality. I moved to Man Met in September 2016, after previously teaching at UCL and Queen Mary, University of London.
I am a co-founder and convenor of the History of Sexuality Seminar at the Institute of Historical Research, an associate of the Raphael Samuel History Centre, and a member of the German History Society. Between 2015-2017 I was a public governor at the Tavistock & Portman NHS Foundation Trust (a mental health trust based in London).
2017 is the fiftieth anniversary of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act, which partially decriminalised male homosexual acts in England and Wales. I am organising a conference to mark the occasion, further details of which can be found on the website of the Raphael Samuel History Centre.
My most recent article, in German History, can be accessed here (no login required).
PhD History (2015): Queen Mary, University of London
MRes Modern Languages – German (2011): Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies, University of London
BA German and History (2010): UCL
Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (2016)
I have previously taught twentieth-century German and European history at both UCL and Queen Mary, University of London.
I am currently unit leader of:
I also teach on:
I welcome informal approaches from anyone interested in undertaking postgraduate study at Man Met, or from those choosing supervisors for their final year BA dissertations. I would be delighted to supervise work in the modern history of sexuality, LGBT and queer history, twentieth-century German history (especially post-1945), or in many other areas of modern European history, especially histories of social protest and cultural change.
My main areas of research expertise are in the modern history of sexuality, especially queer history, and twentieth-century German History.
My first research project analysed ways of thinking and talking about homosexuality in the first decade after (partial) decriminalisation. My forthcoming book, The Ambivalence of Gay Liberation, challenges two powerful “success stories”. On the one hand, I highlight the limits of liberalisation in post-war West Germany, therefore interrogating an influential strand of German historiography, which has portrayed the Federal Republic as a success story of democratisation and liberalisation. On the other, I call into question the “gay success story”, a narrative which paints gay activists in a heroic light and credits gay liberation with rescuing homosexuals from their shame-filled existence. Homosexual politics in the 1970s did not just revolve around pride, hope, visibility and radicalism, but also shame, fear, respectability, and confusion. By focusing on continuities in homosexual politics, I thereby de-centre the period around 1968/69 as a sharp historical divide.
My next research project explores how ‘gay rights’ have come to be understood and strategically packaged within the framework of ‘human rights’. I build on the recent work of Samuel Moyn, Jan Eckel and others on the explosion of human rights discourse in the 1970s, by analysing how human rights facilitated transnational dialogue between homosexuals and about homosexuality. However, the aim of my project is to provide a much longer genealogy of this relationship. Hilary Clinton’s statement in 2011 that ‘gay rights are human rights’ is only the most high-profile instalment of a discourse dating back to the 1830s, when Heinrich Hössli, writing in German, used the vocabulary ‘human rights’ (Menschenrechte) to defend the sexuality of men who loved other men.
C. Griffiths (2016). Sex, Shame and West German Gay Liberation. German History. 34(3), pp.445-467.
C. Griffiths (2015). Gay activism in Modell Deutschland. European Review of History: Revue européenne d'histoire. 22(1), pp.60-76.
CE. Griffiths (2014). Between Triumph and Myth: Gay Heroes and navigating the schwule Erfolgsgeschichte. helden. heroes. héros. 1, pp.54-60.
CE. Griffiths (2012). Konkurrierende Pfade der Emanzipation: Der Tuntenstreit (1973–1975) und die Frage des “respektablen Auftretens". A. Pretzel, V. Weiß. In: Rosa Radikale: Die Schwulenbewegung der 1970er Jahre. Hamburg: Männerschwarm, pp.143-159.
2017: Queer Lives Past and Present: Interrogating the Legal. Birkbeck, University of London (November). Organiser. Call for papers online here.
2016: Radical Histories / Histories of Radicalism. Queen Mary, University of London (July). Strand Convener: ‘Diversity, Difference and Beyond’
2016: What is and how to do LGBT History? Methods, Subjects and Approaches. Manchester Metropolitan University (February). Co-organiser
2015: German History Society Annual Conference. Queen Mary, University of London (September). Local co-organiser
2012 What is LGBT(Q) History and where do we stand? Queen Mary, University of London (November). Co-organiser
2017: Visiting Fellow, German Historical Institute, Washington D.C.
2015: German History Society small research grant
2013: Visiting Fellow, Centre for Contemporary History, Potsdam (funded by the DAAD, the German Academic Exchange Service)
2012: Royal Historical Society conference organisation grant
Reviewer for HERA (Humanities in the European Research Area): Joint Research Programme ‘Uses of the Past’
Associate, Raphael Samuel History Centre
Convenor, Seminar Series in the History of Sexuality, IHR London
Fellow, Higher Education Academy
Member, German History Society