Ben Gook

Dr Ben Gook is lecturer in cultural studies at The University of Melbourne. He was previously an Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Fellow at Humboldt University in Berlin. He completed his PhD thesis at The University of Melbourne in Social Theory and Cultural Studies. A revised version of the thesis was published in September 2015 as Divided Subjects, Invisible Borders: Re-unified Germany after 1989 (London: Rowman and Littlefield International). This work on contemporary Germany presents a case study of social change and memory, of ideology and history, of psyche and society. The work draws on a variety of disciplines, including sociology, history, anthropology, cultural studies, literary studies and film studies. His refereed works have been published in a number of journals and edited books, typically at the intersection of aesthetics, psychoanalysis and sociology. He also has professional experience in the historical field, working as an editor with the History Teachers’ Association of Victoria, editing Agora, the association’s fifty-year-old part-peer-reviewed research journal, as well as primary and secondary textbooks.

Emotions and affective life were central motivating questions in his first book: How do eastern and western Germans feel about their counterparts and re-unification? What, after all, is the eastern nostalgia for the GDR? What charge does history carry here? Why do subjects narrate their pasts in particular ways? What does this case study have to offer theories of subjectivity, affect and emotion? His new research, supported by the CHE, continues this inquiry by looking at related questions around ambivalence and ecstasy. This research continues the interest with historical and contemporary affective life, decentering the German example but retaining it as an often illustrative and evocative case of recent social and historical change. This new research traces a surprising link between ecstasy and ambivalence, where the latter in particular is an under-researched area of emotions. He works in and between the fields of sociology of emotion and history of emotion. This CHE-related project is an important plank in a longer research program around affect, emotions and subjectivity in situations of social change.

Academia profile


Splendour of the Impersonal: Ecstasy, Transcendence and a Pre-History of the Late Twentieth Century



Gook, B. Divided Subjects, Invisible Borders: Re-unified Germany after 1989. 'Place, Memory, Affect' series. London: Rowman & Littlefield International, 2015.

Book chapters

Gook, B. 'Australian Postcolonial Trauma and Silences in Samson and Delilah'. In Scars and Wounds: Film and Legacies of Trauma, edited by N. Hodgin and A. Thakkar, pp. 169–94. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017.

Gook, B. 'Berlin and Detroit: An Alien Techno Alliance. Cultural Politics and Social Transformation after the Fall of the Wall'.  In Limbus: Australisches Jahrbuch für germanistische Literatur- und Kulturwissenschaft 9, edited by F.-J. Deiters, A. Fliethmann, B. Lang, A. Lewis and C. Weller, pp. 171–204. 2016.

Gook, B. 'Andreas Dresen’s Berlin Films'  In Andreas Dresen, edited by Julian Preece and Nick Hodgin.  Contemporary German Writers and Filmmakers series (Peter Lang) (forthcoming).

Gook, B. 'Material'.  In Directory of World Cinema: Germany, ed. Michelle Langford, vol. 2. Intellect Books, 2013.

Gook, B. 'Material and Montage: Something’s Always Left Over'. In The Everyday of Memory: Between Communism and Postcommunism, edited by Marta Rabikowska. Peter Lang, 2013.

Gook, B. “Sonnenallee” and “Wall Films”. In Directory of World Cinema: Germany 2, edited by M. Langford, vol. 1. Intellect Books, 2012.

Journal articles

Gook, B.  ‘Ecstatic Melancholic: Ambivalence, Electronic Music and Social Change around the Fall of the Berlin Wall’. Emotions: History, Culture, Society 1.2 (2017): 11–37.

2014 Review essay of recent books on Marxism and on Adorno, Studies in Social and Political Thought 22 (2014).

'Too Soon, Too Late: Fetishism, Melancholia and Mourning the GDR in Good Bye Lenin!'. S: Journal of the Circle for Lacanian Ideology Critique (2014): 6–7.

'Being There is Everything!' Memory Studies 4.1 (2011): 13–22.

'Really-Existing Nostalgia? Remembering East Germany in Film'. Traffic 10 (2008): 123–41.

'…With Ears for Landscape: Australian Soundscapes'. Crossings 11.2 (2006) online.

Other publications

Dancing at the End of History: The Fall of the Berlin Wall and Ecstasy in Berlin'. Histories of Emotion blog (9 November 2015).

'The Berlin Wall’s fall saw the rise of techno tourism' The Conversation (7 November 2014).

Review of Memory and Political Change by Aleida Assmann and Linda Shott (eds). Dialogues on Historical Justice and Memory, Columbia University (forthcoming).

'The bitter necessity of debt relief'. The Conversation (27 December 2012)

Review of Berlin, Alexanderplatz by Gisa Weszkalnys. Focus on German Studies 18 (2011): 114–118.

'You think Occupy is incoherent? It takes time to change history'. The Conversation (3 November 2011).

'9/11: The Value of Memory'. The Conversation (13 September 2011).

Review 'Gook on Brockmann, "A Critical History of German Film"'. H-Net German (August 2011).

Review 'Gook on Müller, 'The Disenchantment with Market Economics: East Germans and Western Capitalism'. H-Net German (August 2009).


Philippa Maddern Memorial Essay Prize for best essay in Emotions: History, Culture, Society Vol. 1 (2017).  Announced 12 December 2017.