UW News

January 3, 2018

Essay by UW historian Laurie Marhoefer named most memorable of 2017 by The Conversation US

UW News

An essay by Laurie Marhoefer, University of Washington assistant professor of history, has been named the most memorable of 2017 by editors and readers of The Conversation US, an independent news website that publishes evidence-based writing by academics, including many at the UW.

Laurie Marhoefer, UW assistant professor of history

Laurie Marhoefer, UW assistant professor of history

Editors with The Conversation US say the site published more than 1,700 articles by academics in 2017, “on subjects ranging from anthropology to zoology and from AI to zombies.” In late December they gathered together 10 of the site’s most read and reprinted stories and asked readers and partners to vote on which they thought the most memorable.

Marhoefer’s Aug. 21, 2017, cautionary piece on protests — headlined “How should we protest neo-Nazis? Lessons from German history” — came out on top.

The essay came soon after the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that resulted in the murder of 32-year-old Heather Heyer. Following that violent incident, Marhoefer wrote, many asked what they should do if neo-Nazis rally in their city.

“Should they put their bodies on the line in counterdemonstrations? Some say yes.,” she wrote. “History says no. Take it from me: I study the original Nazis.”

She ends her piece as powerfully as she begins, writing: “The cause Heather Heyer died for is best defended by avoiding the physical confrontation that the people who are responsible for her death want.”

The Conversation US began in 2014 as a pilot project following previous launches in Australia in 2011 and the United Kingdom in 2013. Its aim is to be “an independent source of news and views from the academic research community, delivered direct to the public.”

Among other most-memorable Conversation stories from 2017 is one by Steven D. Demorest, who was with the UW School of Music for many years until 2015. His very-popular article was titled “Stop obsessing over talent — everyone can sing.”

Marhoefer is the author of the 2015 book “Sex and the Weimar Republic: German Homosexual Emancipation and the Rise of the Nazis,” published by University of Toronto Press.