Dr. Susanne Schmidt

susanne schmidt


Global History

Research Associate and Lecturer (Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin)

Research interests: History of science, esp. the social and human sciences; history of gender, feminism, and anti-feminism; history of inequality and social justice; modern history


Koserstraße 20
Raum A 394
14195 Berlin


Susanne Schmidt is currently a visiting fellow at the German Historical Institut in Washington, DC.

Susanne Schmidt is a research associate and lecturer (Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin) in history, studying the history of modern social thought and practice. She joined the Department in spring 2018, having received her PhD in History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Cambridge earlier that year.

Susanne Schmidt’s research has been supported by the Max Weber Foundation, Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes (German Academic Scholarship Foundation), Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Rockefeller Foundation, and others. She was a Visiting Fellow at the Department of the History of Science, Harvard University; Visiting Predoctoral Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science; and predoctoral research fellow (Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin) at Humboldt University Berlin. Undergraduate and graduate studies in Berlin, Cambridge, Paris.

Summer 2019

Natur/Historie: Empirie und Buchwissen in der Moderne [Natural history: Empiricism and book culture, 1300–1900], BA seminar

Gender and sexuality in global history, MA seminar

Winter 2018–19

Theorie, Methode und Geschichte der Geschichtswissenschaft, BA seminar

We should all be feminists: A history, MA seminar

Summer 2018

Gender Macht Wissen [Gender Power Knowledge], BA seminar

A history of objectivity, MA seminar

Susanne Schmidt’s book Midlife crisis: The feminist origins of a chauvinist cliché (University of Chicago Press, in print) will provide the first historical study of the idea of midlife crisis, which entered American popular culture and social research in the 1970s. By locating the midlife crisis in the context of contemporary debates about gender roles, the book makes visible the close connections between understandings of the life course and social change. It reverses accounts of “popularization” by showing how an idea moved from the public sphere into academia. Above all, it uncovers the feminist origins of the concept and places this in a modern tradition of American writing about middle life that rejected the gendered “double standard of aging”: constructions of middle age and life-planning were not always oppressive, but often used for feminist purposes.

A new book, tentatively titled What was poverty?, will examine the history of indigence and approaches to it. By studying changing attempts to measure and define, monitor, explain, and deal with poverty at local, transnational, and global levels, the project contributes to our understanding of this complex and controversial social issue and illuminates its place in forging the modern social order.


Midlife crisis: The feminist origins of chauvinist cliché. Chicago: University of Chicago Press (in press).

Research articles

Midlife-Crisis: Die feministischen Ursprünge eines chauvinistischen Klischees, Nach Feierabend: Zürcher Jahrbuch für Wissensgeschichte 14 (2018), 179–198.

The anti-feminist reconstruction of the midlife crisis: Popular psychology, journalism and social science in 1970s America, Gender & History 30 (2018), vol. 1.,153–176.

The feminist origins of the midlife crisis, Historical Journal 61 (2018),vol. 2,503–523, Part of the Cambridge University Press Collection for International Women's Day and Women's History Month 2018.

Short articles

“Menocore: Feminist constructions of midlife since 1900.” In Reinventing, rethinking and re-presenting menopause, ed. by Beverley Carruthers and Jane Woollatt, 10–15. London: London College of Communication, 2019.

“Crisis: Where human nature meets cultural critique,” Independent Social Research Foundation Bulletin 17 (2018), 34–41.

“Midlife crisis: Age and gender in the long 1970s,” Rockefeller Archive Center Research Reports, 2016.

Newspapers, radio, blogs

“Midlife Crisis – Die Geschichte eines missverstandenen Konzepts,” Deutschlandfunk, Essay & Diskurs, 12 August 2018.

“How Feminists Invented the Male Midlife Crisis,” Zocalo Public Square, 1 June 2018. 

“The Feminist Origins of the Midlife Crisis,” Cambridge Core Blog, 17 May 2018. 

“Im Sportwagen durch die Vierziger,” Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 27 March 2018. 

Book reviews

Essay review of Rethinking therapeutic culture, edited by Timothy Aubry und Trysh Travis, and Groovy science: Knowledge, innovation, and American counterculture, edited by David Kaiser and W. Patrick McKay, Isis 108 (2017), vol. 4, 946–948.

Review of Breaking up time: Negotiating the borders between present, past and future, edited by Chris Lorenz, and Berber Bevernage, Traverse 2016, vol. 3, 138.

Review of American pulp: How paperbacks brought modernism to main street, by Paula Rabinowitz, H-Soz-u-Kult, December 2016.

Review of The prime of life: A history of modern adulthood, by Steven Mintz, H-Soz-u-Kult, January 2016.

OSA Geschichte