Is it in somebody’s self-interest to risk his life in order to prove his honor? This is a question that was asked many times starting in the late eighteenth century. Why did men put family life, professional success, and physical integrity second and engage in a potentially deadly mode of conflict management? If we rule out a deeply hidden death wish, what prompted them to behave contrary to what seemed to be their proper self-interest? And why did this seemingly irrational behavior persist right into the early twentieth century? Or, to put it the other way round, why did it stop then?
Ute Frevert is Director of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, where she also heads the Centre for the History of Emotions. Between 2003 and 2007 she was Professor of German History at Yale University and previously taught history at the University of Konstanz, the University of Bielefeld, and the Free University Berlin. Her research interests cover the social and cultural history of modern times, gender history, political history, and the history of emotions. In 1998 she was awarded the Leibniz prize of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. Her major works include Men of Honour: A Social and Cultural History of the Duel (1991); Mann und Weib und Weib und Mann: Geschlechterdifferenzen in der Moderne (1995); Eurovisionen: Ansichten guter Europäer im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert (2003); A Nation in Barracks: Modern Germany, Military Conscription and Civil Society (2004); Emotions in History – Lost and Found (2011); Gefühlspolitik: Friedrich II. als Herr über die Herzen? (2012); and, most recently, Vergängliche Gefühle (2013).