Birthdays are good moments for Janus-faced self-reflection: where have we been and where might we go? This essay undertakes such a reflective enterprise from the outsider perspective of a scholar trained in classics. It apprises a critique of German studies not in the mode of maudlin navel-gazing or in bitter lamentation of the decline of the humanities but in the hope that it is possible to sketch out and to build a more epistemically capacious field. Running a micro-experiment to demonstrate the narrow range of topics that have been thought proper to New German Critique, this essay enjoins those of us who study Europe’s past, both recent and distant, to imagine our relationships to our objects of study beyond that of haunting and of debt owed to tradition. With such flexing of the imagination, this essay makes suggestions for how disciplinary overhaul and an explicitly decolonial reckoning can offer hope of another fifty years of vibrant intellectual life in the pages of NGC.

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