Edith Sheffer

Assistant Professor of Modern European History and, by courtesy, German Studies

At Stanford Since

Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley; B.A., Harvard University, summa cum laude.

Bio Sketch

Edith Sheffer joined the History Department faculty in 2010, having come to Stanford as an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in the Humanities in 2008.  Her recent book, Burned Bridge: How East and West Germans Made the Iron Curtain, challenges the conventional history of the Iron Curtain.  It suggests that the physical barrier between East and West Germany was not simply imposed by Cold War superpowers, but was an outgrowth of anxious postwar society on both sides.  Her current project, Inventing Autism under Nazism: The Surveillance of Emotion and Child Euthanasia in the Third Reich, also examines the global consequences of everyday actions.  This work investigates Hans Asperger’s creation of the autism diagnosis in Vienna from 1938 through the Second World War and situates it within the context of Nazi efforts to define the national community and the murder of disabled children.  A related project through Stanford's Spatial History Lab, "Forming Selves: The Creation of Child Psychiatry from Red Vienna to the Third Reich and Abroad," maps the transnational development of child psychiatry as a discipline, tracing linkages among its pioneers in Vienna in the 1930s through their emigration from the Third Reich and establishment of different practices in the 1940s in England and the United States.


  • Everyday Life: How History Happens
  • The Problem of Europe
  • Germany & the World Wars, 1870-1990
  • Cold War Europe
  • Sexual Encounters: The Middle East and Europe, with Alan Mikhail
  • Self-policing, Denunciation, and Surveillance in Modern Europe
  • Emotion, Power, and the Making of Modern Europe, with Ian Beacock
  • Economic Miracles? Crisis and Recovery in Modern Europe, with Benjamin Hein
  • Histories of Germany


Selected Publications

Book Cover of Burned Bridge by Edith ShefferBurned Bridge: How East and West Germans Made the Iron Curtain, Oxford University Press, August 2011.

Winner of the Paul Birdsall Prize from the American Historical Association
Winner of the Fraenkel in Contemporary History from the Wiener Library, London
Winner of the Keller-Sierra Prize from the Western Association of Women’s Historians  



Selected Fellowships and Awards

  • Stanford Humanities Faculty Fellow, 2013-2014
  • William H. and Frances Green Faculty Fellow, Stanford University, 2012-2013
  • Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in the Humanities, Stanford University, 2008-2010
  • Department of History Dissertation Fellowship, 2006-2007
  • Department of History Rosenberg and Ehrman Fellowships, 2003-2006
  • John L. Simpson Memorial Fellowship in International and Comparative Studies, 2004-2005
  • Institute of European Studies Dissertation Fellowship, 2004-2005
  • Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation Dissertation Fellowship, 2003-2004
  • German Chancellor Scholarship, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, 2002-2003
  • Institute of European Studies Research Grant, 2001
  • Mellon Foundation Dissertation Fellowship, 2001
  • Humanities Research Grant, 2001
  • Institute of European Studies Fellowship, 2000-2002
  • Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship in Humanistic Studies, 1999-2000
  • Jacob K. Javits Fellowship, 1999-2004 (declined)
  • Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Fellowship, Harvard University, 1996-1997

Teaching Awards

  • Stanford University H&S Dean’s Distinguished Teaching Award, 2013
  • Stanford University H&S Dean's Award, 2013
  • Teaching with Sakai Innovation Award, second place, 2009
  •  Teaching Effectiveness Award, UC Berkeley, 2002
  •  Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award, UC Berkeley, 2002

Recent Interviews