The nineteenth century, above all in Europe, was the age of the 'demographic transition', from high birth and death-rates to low ones; people's health improved, they lived longer, the devastating visitations of epidemics like smallpox, typhoid and cholera gradually disappeared. This lecture explores the reasons for this change, and looks at its effects on culture and society, attitudes towards death and suffering, disease, debilitation and at the end of the century, degeneracy and the Darwinian struggle for survival.
As well as being the Gresham Professor of Rhetoric, Professor Richard J. Evans FBA is Regius Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge. He has lectured extensively all over the world at a variety of literary festivals and events, is widely published and is a frequent contributor to the broadcast media and the press.
He has been Editor of the Journal of Contemporary History since 1998 and a judge of the Wolfson Literary Award for History since 1993. His most recent publication was the third volume of his monumental large-scale history of the Third Reich, The Third Reich at War, which was published in 2008.
Professor Evans's area of research interest lies predominantly in German history, especially social and cultural history, since the mid-nineteenth century. He has worked on movements of emancipation and liberation, including the feminist movement and the labor movement, on social inequality in the urban environment, and on the social history of death and disease. His work on the history of crime has involved examining literary discourses and their interaction with social models of deviance, both those articulated by the authorities and those lived by deviants themselves.
Since acting as principal expert witness in the David Irving libel trial before the High Court in London in 2000, his work has dealt with Holocaust denial and the clash of epistemologies when history enters the courtroom.