Pamela M. Potter

Credentials: German

Position title: Professor


Office Number: 868 Van Hise Hall

Language: German, Yiddish

Research/Language Interests: German music, cultural history, visual and performing arts, emigration, race, issues of national identity, historiography, arts and politics, 20th-century Berlin, legacies of German composers (Richard Wagner, Richard Strauss, G.F. Handel, J.S. Bach), Yiddish language and culture.

About Me: My work concentrates on relating music, the arts, and the writing of cultural history to ideological, political, social, and economic conditions, focusing twentieth-century Germany, Europe, and the United States. My book Most German of the Arts: Musicology and Society from the Weimar Republic to the End of Hitler’s Reich (Yale University Press, 1998) was the first full-scale attempt to examine the field of German musicology in its political, ideological, and economic contexts, using extensive documentation to reconstruct the history of musicological projects and institutions and to reveal the conflicts and compromises that led scholars to find their niche in German society by coming to mutually beneficial agreements with political powers before, during, and after the Nazi era. It was reviewed in The New York Times and was translated into German in 2000 and Portuguese in 2015, with a forthcoming translation Chinese. My next book, Art of Suppression: Confronting the Nazi Past in Histories of the Visual and Performing Arts (Weimar and Now series, University of California Press, 2016), raises questions about the uniqueness of Nazi culture and aesthetics and traces the roots of these ideas in West German and Anglophone cultural histories. The volume I co-edited with historian Celia Applegate, Music and German National Identity (University of Chicago Press, 2002), brings together seventeen essays that explore how music has come to be so closely identified with German identity, examining trends in philosophy, literature, politics, and social currents, as well as in the creation and performance of folk music, art music, church music, jazz, rock, and pop. Another collection, Music in World War II: Coping with Wartime in Europe and the United States, co-edited with Christina Baade and Roberta Marvin (Indiana University Press, 2020), brings together ten essays that consider the role of music, media, and sound in the lives of soldiers and civilians. My current project is a study of Berlin as a music metropolis from the beginning of the eighteenth century to the present.  Previous honors include the Alfred Einstein Award of the American Musicological Society; Outstanding Book Award, Choice Magazine; and the Vilas Associate Award, the Romnes Faculty Fellowship, and the Kellett Mid-Career Award from the University of Wisconsin. I have also received grant support from Fulbright, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the German Academic Exchange, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Social Science Research Council.

Affiliated Departments: School of Music; Center for German and European Studies.

• Yale University, Ph.D.
• Yale University, M. Phil.
• Harvard University, A.B., magna cum laude



Click below to hear discussions of Prof. Potter’s recent books.

Art of Suppression
Confronting the Nazi Past in Histories of the Visual and Performing Arts

Music in World War II
Coping with Wartime in Europe and the United States