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I am a PhD student in history, specializing in the social/cultural history of early modern Germany. My work focuses on the development of the standing army in the latter half of the 17th century and the effect that that process had on the culture of the common soldier. I was in Dresden this summer to research my prospectus, and I stayed in a hostel. The room I stayed in was co-ed. 

(Male) mechanical engineering student in the bunk under me: “So, what do you do?”

Me: “I study early modern German history.”

Him: “Early modern? When is that?”

(I was expecting this; the term is not only used more by English-speakers than German-speakers but it is also somewhat new and tends to confuse people. Laypeople hear “modern” and think “19th century” a lot.)

Me: “Between the end of the Middle Ages and the French Revolution, roughly. I study the Thirty Years’ War [1618-1648] and the years after it.” 

Him: *nods sagely.* “The Thirty Years’ War, huh? Religion was the cause of that, you know.”

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