Department ofHistory

Sophie Claudine De Schaepdrijver

Sophie Claudine De Schaepdrijver

Walter L. and Helen P. Ferree Professor of Modern European History

223 Weaver Building

University Park, PA 16802

Phone: (814) 865-3797

Curriculum Vitae:


PhD, University of Amsterdam, 1990
Sophie Claudine De Schaepdrijver Headshot


I am a historian of 19th- and 20th-century Europe. I started out as an urban historian of the 19th century and have published on prostitution, migration, and urban design. I then turned to the cultural and social history of the First World War – how Europeans lived through and attempted to make sense of this war, and how it impacted lives and societies. Specifically, I focus on how Europeans colonized each other during this conflict, in other words, on military occupation as a dimension of the First World War – I have called it the war’s “Third Space.” Inside this broad context, my recent work highlights (seemingly) ordinary lives and identifies forgotten sources. Gabrielle Petit: the Death and Life of a Female Spy in the First World War (2015), a study of a life and of the memory of a life, was praised in The Times Higher Education as “a model of how the cultural history of the war should be written.” Co-written with Tammy M. Proctor, An English Governess in the Great War: The Secret Diary of Mary Thorp (2017) was reviewed in the New York Times.

Current projects: I am co-editing an international volume on the military occupations of the First World War in a region ranging from northern France to the Caucasus (upcoming workshop at the Penn State History Department, October 19-20, 2023). I am writing a monograph on German, global, and local attitudes towards and experiences of the German invasion and occupation of Belgium in 1914-1918.

I teach a range of classes on modern Europe, such as HIST120N (Europe since 1789), which I have also developed for the World Campus; HIST420 (Postwar Europe after 1945); and HIST527 (Societies, Citizens and Violence in Modern Europe). I also teach classes on the global history of the world wars, such as HIST144 (The World At War, 1937-1945), which I have also developed for the World Campus, and HIST302W (Historical Criticism – global sources of the world wars), which I have also developed for the World Campus. I plan to develop a new course, HIST139 (The World At War, 1912-1923).

I am also active as a public historian: I have curated exhibitions, co-written and presented a prize-winning television documentary, and made media appearances, e.g. as commentator for BBC Television’s live coverage of the centenary celebrations of the Battle of Passchendaele (July 2017).

I have received fellowships from, a.o., the National Humanities Center, the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies (twice), the Leverhulme Foundation (UK), and the Free University of Brussels. Most recent awards: Penn State, 2017 Faculty Scholar Medal in

the Liberal Arts; Innovation in Academia Award, University of Kent (UK), 2018; and the 2019 Henriette de Beaufort Biography Prize by the Society of Dutch Literature.

Areas of Specialization: