Alice Goff is a historian of German cultural and intellectual life in the modern period. Her research and teaching focus on the history of museums, aesthetics, and the relationships between material objects and political thought in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. As a post-doctoral fellow with the Michigan Society of Fellows, she holds appointments in the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures and History Department. She comes to U-M from UC Berkeley, where she completed her PhD in History in 2015. She also holds a master’s degree in Archives and Records Management from the University of Michigan, and a bachelor’s degree from Bryn Mawr College.
Alice is currently at work on a book project with the provisional title, “The God Behind the Marble: Transcendence and the Art Object in the German Aesthetic State.” It tells the story of artworks caught up in the looting, iconoclasm, and shifting boundaries of German states during the French Revolution and Napoleonic wars and the consequences of their displacement for German political, religious, and intellectual practice at the beginning of the nineteenth century. By examining the development of private collections, public museums, and church treasuries, this work examines the frictions that arose between the precarious fates of artworks on the ground and the assertions of art’s ideal autonomy in philosophy and criticism.
When not tracking the abuses of art objects in the nineteenth century, Alice is working on a new project on the early modern Kunstkammer in the German Democratic Republic, and developing a first year seminar on inanimate things that have been said to have spoken in German history.