Ben LewisBen Lewis

Postgraduate Research Student (Wolfson Scholar)


Originally from South Wales, I came to Sheffield in 2003 to study for my undergraduate degree in German, which I completed in 2007, winning both the German Embassy Book Prize (Best Overall Performance in German) and the Kemsley Prize (Best Performance in the Spoken Language). I spent my Erasmus year (2005-06) at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn, where in August 2004 I had already completed a Sommerkurs funded by the Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst (DAAD).

After my BA I moved to London, where I spent six years working in left-wing journalism (writing over 250,000 words on German history and politics for publications such as the Weekly Worker and Revolutionary History); freelance translation; and copy-editing for the quarterly journal Critique: Journal of Socialist Theory and the Historical Materialism Book Series. During this time, I also edited – together with international specialists – three volumes of texts by thinkers from the period 1890-1923. German politics, philosophy and social and intellectual history remain my main research areas. My particular expertise lies in the history of European socialism and its contested legacy today.

I returned to academia, and Sheffield, in September 2014, where I gained a Distinction for my Research Track MA, winning the Sheffield University SLC Postgraduate Taught Prize (for best overall performance at MA level in the School of Languages and Cultures) and the Sheffield University SLC Dissertation Award (for best MA dissertation in the School of Languages and Cultures). My dissertation, which will soon be published by Brill Academic Publishers, focused on the democratic-republican thought of the Marxist thinker Karl Kautsky (1854-1938). My research was supported by a fee-waiver from the White Rose University Consortium.

I am currently a Wolfson Scholar PhD candidate in the department of Germanic Studies. My research aims to provide a comprehensive analysis of the political thought of the German intellectual Oswald Spengler (1880–1936) and its contribution to the discourse, in the fifteen years preceding Hitler’s seizure of power, regarding the perceived shortcomings of the Weimar Republic.

Teaching Experience

Spring Term 2016: I worked as a lecturer (giving one hourly lecture per week) and a tutor (leading two hourly seminars per week) for the Second-Year course ‘Life and Death under Hitler’ in the Department of History at the University of Huddersfield.

2014/15: I worked as a tutor for the First-Year German Studies course, which dealt with German culture from ca. 1815 onwards, and for the Second-Year German Translation & Grammar course.


• Ben Lewis, Karl Kautsky on Democracy and Republicanism, Leiden: Brill (forthcoming in 2017)

• Ed. with Mike Jones, Clara Zetkin: Letters and Writings. translated by Ben Lewis and Mike Jones, Pontypool: Merlin, 2015.

• Ed. with Mike Macnair, Kautsky on Colonialism. With an introduction by Mike Macnair and translations by Ben Lewis and Maciej Zurowski, London: November Publications, 2013. 

• Ed. with Lars T. Lih, Zinoviev and Martov: Head to Head in Halle. Translated by Ben Lewis and Lars T. Lih, London: November Publications, 2011.

Ben Lewis Publications

Book Chapters

• ‘Rosa Luxemburg et la république’, in Révolution et Démocratie: Actualité de Rosa Luxemburg (Agone no. 59, 2016), pp. 75-87.

Review Articles

• ‘Review of Ralf Hoffrogge, “Working Class Politics in the German Revolution: Richard Müller, the Revolutionary Shop Stewards and the Origins of the Council Movement”’, International Review of Social History, Vol. 61, No.1 (2016), pp. 168-171.

• ‘Review of Ralf Hoffrogge, “Sozialismus und Arbeiterbewegung. Von den Anfängen bis 1914”’, Critique: Journal of Socialist Theory, Vol. 43, No. 1 (2015), pp. 121-128.

• ‘Second International Marxism and Winning the Battle of Democracy’, review of Daniel Gaido and Richard B. Day (eds.), Witnesses to Permanent Revolution: The Documentary Record (Chicago: Haymarket, 2009), Revolutionary History 10.4 (2012), pp. 329-337.

Selected Articles

• ‘Sources, Streams and Confluence: The Origins of Democratic Centralism’, in Weekly Worker, 25 August 2016, pp. 8-9.

• ‘Clara Zetkin: Marxist Hero or “Sower and Preacher of Division”?’, History Matters Blog today-marxist- hero.

• ‘World War I and the SPD Left’s Dirty Secret, the Die Glocke Group’, in Weekly Worker, 26 June 2014, pp. 8-9.

• ‘Kautsky: From Erfurt to Charlottenburg’, in Weekly Worker, 10 November 2011, pp. 5-7.

Selected Book Reviews

• ‘A Leading Rank-and- Filer’, review of Reiner Tosstorf (ed.), Paul Frölich im radikalen Lager. Politische Autobiographie 1890-1921 (Berlin: Basisdruck, 2013), in Weekly Worker, 12 July 2014, pp. 10-11.

• ‘Clara Zetkin: Preached Principle, Promoted Unity’, review of Marilyn J. Boxer and John S. Partington (eds.), Clara Zetkin: National and International Contexts (London: Social History Society, 2012), in Weekly Worker, 22 May 2014, pp. 10-11. 

• ‘Imagination, Inspiration and Betrayal’, review of Kevin Callahan, Demonstration Culture: European Socialism and the Second International, 1889-1914 (Leicester: Troubador Publishing, 2010), in Weekly Worker, 9 May 2013, p. 9.

• ‘Women and Socialism: Bebel’s Forgotten Legacy’, review of Anne Lopes and Gary Roth, Men’s Feminism: August Bebel and the German Socialist Movement (Amherst: Humanity Publishing, 2000), in Weekly Worker, 25 April 2013, p. 7.

Selected Translations

• Karl Heinz Roth / Angelika Ebbinghaus (eds.), On the Road to Global Labour History: A Festschrift for Marcel van der Linden, Leiden: Brill (forthcoming in 2016)

• ‘Parvus and Die Glocke: For German Victory’. Introduced by Mike Macnair, Weekly Worker, 11 September 2014, pp. 10-11.

• Karl Kautsky, ‘“A Destroyer of Vulgar Marxism”: Review of Karl Korsch’s “Marxism and Philosophy” by Karl Kautsky’, in Platypus Review 43, 2012, pp. 2-4.

• Karl Kautsky, ‘Nationality and Internationality’, in Critique: Journal of Socialist Theory 37.3, 2009, pp. 371-38, and Critique: Journal of Socialist Theory 38.1, 2010, pp. 143-63.

Conference Papers and Guest Talks

• March 2016: ‘Clara Zetkin: A Revolutionary Life’ (Institute of Historical Research, London)

• October 2013: “Is That Our Programme, Karl?” Rosa Luxemburg and the Challenge of the German Revolution (17th International Rosa Luxemburg Conference, Paris)

• November 2012: “Baron”, “Ede” and the Politics of Correspondence: A First Look at Eduard Bernsteins Briefwechsel mit Karl Kautsky (Historical Materialism, School of Oriental and African Studies, London)

• February 2012: Lenin, 1912 and All That (International Platypus Convention, University of Chicago)

• November 2011: The Early Comintern (International Revolutionary History Panel, Historical Materialism, School of Oriental and African Studies, London)

• November 2011: The Book that Didn’t Bark: Karl Kautsky’s Defence of Marxist Republicanism (Historical Materialism, School of Oriental and African Studies, London)

• February 2011: German Social Democracy: From Erfurt to Halle (Manchester University Student Union)

• November 2010: Zinoviev’s Finest (Four) Hour(s)? The USPD Halle Congress of 1920 (Historical Materialism, School of Oriental and African Studies, London)