Professor’s book focuses on his own family history
Wilfrid Laurier University political science professor Thomas Hueglin’s latest publication strays from his typical area of focus in federalism. His book, We All Giggled: A Bourgeois Family Memoir, published through the Wilfrid Laurier University Press explores his own family’s history in Germany tracing back several generations.
Written predominantly from memory with the aid of old diaries found in the family home in Germany, Hueglin’s book examines his family’s history and recounts stories that he wanted to record for his children.
“When my father died eight years ago, I thought someone should write down the old stories that our family still knew. All of a sudden I realized I was sort of the last one that did know them so I wanted to write them down for my children,” he said. “I never planned to publish this.”
Hueglin began recording the stories on his own and only after he mentioned his project to the director of the WLU Press was it ever a possibility that any of the work would ever be published.
“It’s not a historically researched genealogical family history, I hardly did any research … I really only wrote down what I already knew and I wrote it down the way I knew it,” Hueglin said. The book covers both his father and mother’s sides of the family; the Hüglins, who lost much of their fortune in the war era, and the Wachendorffs, who escaped harm despite their Jewish roots.
He mentioned his surprise at being able to recall events and stories from his childhood. “Somehow once you start talking about it, the memory of the brain operates by association and when you start digging into something you start to remember all of these details you had totally forgotten. That was an amazing experience.”
Asked what he intended readers to take away from his work, Hueglin responded, “Quite frankly I have no idea.”
“I think what is of interest for the readership of this book other than my immediate family and friends, is that this is a family memoir of a family that is sort of middle-of-the-road,” he continued.
“Maybe that is the lesson that people can take away from it, that in families there are all these stories and I’m sure if they started digging, all kinds of people would find within the context of their own families all sorts of interesting stories.”
Hueglin explained the departure of this book from his normal writing. “I’m actually a little bit miffed, I have a reading at the Laurier Bookstore in February and nobody ever wanted me to do a reading of my books on federalism,” he said.
“For me, this is quite an unusual situation to talk about a book of mine in this way, I’m a political scientist and this is quite different.”