Ute Frevert was born in 1954 in Lippe and studied history and social science in Münster, Bielefeld and at the London School of Economics. In 1982, she achieved her doctorate from the University of Bielefeld, where she then submitted her habilitation thesis in modern history in 1989. Following that she taught at Berlin’s Free University (1991–1992), in Constance (1992–1997) and in Bielefeld (1997–2003). She was a professor for German history at Yale University in New Haven, USA from 2003 to 2007. She has held several international positions as visiting professor, among others at Vienna’s Institute for Human Sciences (2003) and at the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, Paris (2003). The Free University of Berlin appointed her honorary professor in 2008. Her areas of research include, in particular, social, cultural and political history of the Modern era, the history of emotions and the history of gender. Since 2008, Frevert has been director of Berlin’s Max Planck Institute for Human Development, where she has managed several projects, among these »The power of emotions. Political communication between top and bottom« and »Honour and shame. Social feelings and political practices in the 20th century«.
She has written more than 150 academic essays, edited and published a dozen collections of texts and is the author of 15 monographs, among these her »Women in German History: From Bourgeois Emancipation to Sexual Liberation« (1989), which has been translated into many languages, her book about the role of the duel in society and her study of compulsory military service »A Nation in Barracks: Modern Germany, Military Conscription and Civil Society.« (2001). Her analytical book »Gefühlspolitik. Friedrich II. als Herr über die Herzen?« (2012; tr. The Politics of Emotions. Friedrich II as the King of Hearts?) is part of her research into the »history or emotions«. In collaboration with her employees at MPIB, she wrote the volume »Gefühlswissen. Eine lexikalische Spurensuche in der Moderne« (2011; tr. Emotional knowledge. A lexical examination of the Modern era.), which looks at the fullness and diversity of concepts of emotion since the 18th century. She presented her contemporary approach to historical research in her essay »Vergängliche Gefühle« (2013; tr. Transient emotions). In »Vetrauensfragen« (tr. Questions of trust), Frevert portrays the ‘career’ of trust in the Modern era, which has been increasingly secularised and removed from the moral realm since the 18th century; she then goes on to examine the term and its inflationary use nowadays within various societal contexts.
In 1998, Frevert received the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize from the German research community, which is the international research prize with the highest financial reward. In addition to her participation in numerous academic advisory boards and boards of trustees, Frevert is also co-editor and managing director of the renowned journal »Geschichte und Gesellschaft«(tr. »History and Society«). Ute Frevert lives in Berlin.