Gienow-Hecht, Jessica C. E. 1964-
GIENOW-HECHT, Jessica C. E. 1964-
Born December 25, 1964, in Essen, West Germany (now Germany); daughter of Herbert (an attorney) and Imina (an attorney) Gienow; married Heiko Hecht (a psychologist), August 12, 1995; children: Imina Juliane. Ethnicity: "Caucasian." Education: Earned B.A. degree in Aachen, Germany; University of Virginia, M.A., 1990, Ph.D., 1995. Religion: Protestant.
University of Bielefeld, Bielefeld, Germany, postdoctoral fellow in history, 1995-96; Martin-Luther-University, Halle-Wittenberg, Germany, deputy director of Center for U.S. Studies, 1996-99; Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, John F. Kennedy fellow at Center for European Studies, 1999-2000, fellow at Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History, 2000-02, lecturer in History and Literature Program, 2002—. Worked as a trainee in journalism and advertising and as a clerk at a winery in Bordeaux, France.
American Historical Association, Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, DGFA.
Stuart Bernath Prize for best first book in diplomatic history, 1999, and Myrna Bernath Prize for best book in diplomatic history written by a woman, 2000, both for Transmission Impossible: American Journalism as Cultural Diplomacy in Postwar Germany, 1945-1955; fellow of German Marshall Fund.
Transmission Impossible: American Journalism as Cultural Diplomacy in Postwar Germany, 1945-1955, Louisiana State University Press (Baton Rouge, LA), 1999.
(Editor, with Frank Schumacher) Culture and International History, Berghahn Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Contributor to periodicals. Member of editorial board, Diplomatic History.
WORK IN PROGRESS:
Sound Diplomacy: Music, Emotions, and Politics in Trans-Atlantic Relations since 1850 (tentative title), publication by University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL) expected in 2004.
Jessica C. E. Gienow-Hecht told CA: "For at least five generations, the women in my family (notably on my German mother's side) have aspired to become writers, novelists, and historians. Most of them wrote in private; some published individual works; none, however, became a full-time writer. I consider myself the first one to realize this ambition. I have been wanting to write ever since I was a child. I could barely read and write when I began borrowing my mother's portable typewriter to compose letters, stories, and poems. When I was ten, I 'published' my first newspaper and sold it to my godmother, Tante Annelie. The paper was titled Die Welt and carried news from our home town, interviews, along with fictional news from around the world. When I was twelve, I produced a mock copy of Emma, at the time the leading feminist journal in Germany, in which I reprinted a fictional interview by Emma with my mother (whose opinion about women's emancipation remained ambivalent). I had barely graduated from high school when I began writing for several German newspapers in the Rhineland, Hamburg, Munich, and Berlin, while also working as a text trainee for an advertising firm in Düsseldorf. Yet it was during my stint as an exchange student in the history department of the University of Virginia that I—inspired by a host of English-language scholarship ranging from Richard Hofstetter to Lawrence Levine—decided to become a historian and a writer. Today, I write most of my prose in English along with an occasional article in German.
"Likewise, I became interested in the things I write bout when I was still a child. I grew up in the Federal Republic in the 1960s and 1970s where the presence of American troops and American culture had a profound impact on German life. This was also the time when young Germans in particular began to come to terms with Vergangenheitsbewältigung (mastering the past). My youth was inhabited by the heroes of George Lucas's Star Wars along with the demons of the first holocaust documentaries aired on public television in the mid-1970s. More than any other age bracket, my generation grappled with the paradox of living in a postwar consumer society, inspired by the American economic model and protected by American soldiers, while at the same time accepting responsibility for a German past in which it had not participated. Because of my background, I have focused my writing over the past twelve years on cross-cultural relations, 'trans-atlanticism,' emotions, and, most recently, the power of music in the international arena.
"My current book manuscript, Sound Diplomacy: Music, Emotions, and Politics in Trans-Atlantic Relations since 1850, retraces the efforts of European governments to export culture as an instrument of diplomacy in order to befriend America, a nation that promised to be a rising star in the international arena. While the French capitalized on art and the British on social ties and literature, the German Reich exported the symphony as its most precious cultural good. As a result, in the United States the image of the German musician as a gifted and attractive man who knew how to express his feelings became a symbol for Germany's cosmopolitan culture, while the art of Brahms and Beethoven evoked precisely the respect for German greatness, Heimat, and emotionalism that Reich officials wanted to convey. The emergence of cultural hierarchy in America, then, constituted an international affair orchestrated by tough European artists, policy makers, and cultural administrators.
"My personal goal as a writer and as a historian is to make a difference in the world of international relations. I have lived in four different countries, and I have learned that to be cosmopolitan means to feel estranged wherever one is. But it also means to comprehend and tolerate diversity much better. Many scholars in the profession have recently begun projects designed to internationalize the study and teaching of American history, an effort I have become deeply involved with. Students of U.S. history should be acquainted with the view of American history from the perspective of scholars outside the United States; they should be stimulated in new ways by what they hear and learn—just as any cosmopolitan feels when confronted with a different culture. I do not only write from an international perspective—I am an international human being."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Choice, May, 2000, R. Halverson, review of Transmission Impossible: American Journalism as Cultural Diplomacy in Postwar Germany, 1945-1955.