H. Glenn Penny

Glenn Penny
Modern European history
Critical theory
Migration and diaspora
History of Anthropology
19th century to present relationships between Europeans and non-Europeans
119 Schaeffer Hall
Office Hours: 
T: 2:30pm-4:00pm; W: 12:30pm-2:00pm and by appointment
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Glenn Penny’s work explores the relationships between Europeans and non-Europeans from the eighteenth century to the present. He is particularly interested in Germans’ broad engagement with the wider world. His first book, Objects of Culture: Ethnology and Ethnographic Museums in Imperial Germany (2003), was a major intervention in the history of anthropology. It was the first comparative study of German ethnographic museums as well as the first in-depth analysis of the international market of material culture that took shape during the late nineteenth century. His second book, Kindred by Choice: Germans and American Indians since 1800 (2013), explores the striking sense of affinity for American Indians that has permeated German culture for two centuries. It shows how those affinities stem from German polycentrism, notions of tribalism, a devotion to resistance, a longing for freedom, and a melancholy sense of shared fate. It also uses those interconnections over the longue durée to directly engage the relationship between continuity and rupture in the metanarratives of modern German history and to underscore the perils of historians’ reliance on political periodizations. Listen to a New Books in History podcast interview regarding this book here

Glenn is currently pursuing a set of projects on German Communities in North and South America, including a focused study of German interconnections with Guatemala and an analysis of the networked German spaces produced and preserved by German schools in Latin America from the 1880s through the twentieth century. A central goal of these projects is to bring European and Latin American historiographies into dialog. They are also meant to re-spatialize our understanding of German history and destabilize the prominent role of states in our historical narratives.

In 2000, Glenn Penny's dissertation, Cosmopolitan Visions and Municipal Displays, won the Fritz Stern Prize from the German Historical Institute. His first book received awards from the American Anthropological Association and the European Section of the Southern Historical Association. His second book was named a 2015 Choice Outstanding Academic Title and received an award from the German Academic Exchange Service--Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD). Recently, Glenn was recognized for Distinguished Achievement in Arts and Humanities Research by the Office to the Vice President for Research and Economic Development. Glenn has been awarded fellowships from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Philosophical Society, the Freie Universität in Berlin, the Frtiz-Thyssen Foundation, the George A. and Eliza Gardner Howard Foundation at Brown University, the Center for European Studies at Harvard University, the Center for Advanced Studies in Munich, the German Academic Exchange, the Social Science Research Council, and the Institute for European History in Mainz. He received his PhD from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana in 1999.


Glenn teaches undergraduate courses on modern German and European history, on historiography and critical theory, and on the challenge of doing global history locally. He also teaches graduate seminars on Critical Theory, modern Europe, and Diaspora studies. Courses recently taught include:

  • HIST:1000  First-Year Seminar -- Oktoberfests in the Midwest
  • HIST:1004  Issues: Communities and Society in History -- German Iowa and the Global Midwest
  • HIST:1014  Issues: Twentieth Century-Crisis -- Fleeing the Nazis: German Exiles in Latin America
  • HIST:1403  Western Civilization III (The Modern Age)
  • HIST:2151  Introduction to the History Major -- World War I and German Immigration to Iowa
  • HIST:4148  Global History as Local History:  European Immigration in Iowa
  • HIST:4473  German History 1648-1914
  • HIST:4428  Nineteenth Century Europe and the World
  • HIST:6003  History Theory and Interpretation
  • HIST:7155  Theories: Diaspora, Immigration, Migration
  • HIST:7199  History Workshop: Theory and Interpretation
  • HIST:7438  Theories of Diaspora, Immigration, and Migration
  • HIST:7440  Readings in Modern German History
Awards & Service: 

• German Academic Exchange Service--Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) book award (2015)

• Alexander von Humboldt Senior Research Fellowship (2012-2014)

• Visiting Fellow, Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut, Berlin (2011)

• German Historical Institute, Washington DC Post-Doctoral Fellowship (Spring Semester 2008)

• Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung, (Center for Contemporary Historical Research) Potsdam, Summer Research Fellowship (2007)

• The George A. and Eliza Gardner Howard Foundation Fellowship (2006-2007)

• Charles Smith Book Award from the European Section of the Southern Historical Association (2004)

• Nineteenth Century Studies Association Article Prize (2003)

• "William A. Douglass Book Prize in Europeanist Anthropology," Honorable Mention. The American Anthropological Association (2003)

• National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship (2003-2004)

• American Philosophical Society Research Grant (2003)

• Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (German Academic Exchange) Research Grant (2001)

• Friends of the German Historical Institute Fritz Stern Dissertation Prize in German History (2000)

• James Bryant Conant Fellowship in German and European Studies at the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies at Harvard University (1999)

• Joseph Ward Swain Article Prize (1997) • Institute for European History (Mainz, Germany) Fellowship (1997)

• Social Science Research Council--Berlin Program for Advanced German and European Studies Research Fellowship (1995-1996)