Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts
Sophie Claudine De Schaepdrijver


I am a historian of modern Europe. For the past two decades, my research has focused on the social and cultural history of the First World War, with particular attention to military occupation, gender, and private writings. My latest books are Gabrielle Petit: the Death and Life of a Female Spy in the First World War (2015), praised in The Times Higher Education as “a model of how the cultural history of the war should be written,” and An English Governess in the Great War: The Secret Diary of Mary Thorp (2017, with Tammy Proctor), which was reviewed in the New York Times. I am working on a monograph with the title The Great War’s Third Space: Military Occupation in First World War Europe. The most recent prizes awarded my work are Penn State’s 2017 Faculty Scholar Medal in recognition of scholarly excellence in the Liberal Arts; the 2018 Innovation in Academia award by the University of Kent (UK); and the 2019 Biography Prize by the Society of Dutch Literature in Leiden (The Netherlands). I am also active as a public historian. I have co-written and presented a prize-winning four-part television documentary; served as commentator for BBC Television’s live coverage of the centenary celebrations of the Battle of Passchendaele (July 2017); curated three exhibitions; and written opinion pieces.

I teach a range of undergraduate, undergraduate honors, and graduate classes on modern Europe (see CV). Examples are survey classes such as Europe since 1789 (honors course); intensive-writing and deep-reading classes such as Middle-class work and ambition in the 19th century novel; topical classes, a.o. Postwar Europe and Germany since 1860; and several classes on war and society, such as The Great War and the 20th century (400-level undergraduate) and Societies, Citizens and Violence in Two World Wars (graduate class), as well as the graduate class Imperial Borderlands in 20th century Europe. Most recently, I have developed the online course HIST302W What is History? An Introduction to Historical Methods. As an expert-in-residence at the Free University of Brussels, in 2019-2020, I teach the honors course Perception and Power: Six Classics of Critical Thinking”

In 2020-2021, I will again teach the Honours course, under the title “Imagination and Power: Six Classics of Empathy”.”

Areas of Specialization: