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The latest issue of French History includes an article I wrote on the role of silence during the French Revolution, titled

Le silence du peuple: The Rhetoric of Silence during the French Revolution

French History, 31, Issue 4 (2017), p. 440–469.

https://doi.org/10.1093/fh/crx062

Abstract

In July 1789, a phrase was introduced into French political discourse that would quickly become a standing expression: le silence du peuple est la leçon des rois. Taking this political bon mot as a starting point, the article traces the uses of and responses to collective silences during the French Revolution. It is argued that silence cannot be reduced to just the lack of ‘voice’ indicating suppression or political impotence. Rather, it must be understood as a mode of political action with a rhetoric of its own. Sketching this rhetoric not only highlights the nature and functions of a mode of political communication too often disregarded. It also shows how the controversies surrounding these silences reflected some of the major political questions of the day, playing a key role in the renegotiations of the communicative spaces of politics set off by the Revolution.

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The review I wrote of

Ernst Müller and Falko Schmieder: Begriffsgeschichte und historische Semantik: ein kritisches Kompendium (Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2016), 1,027 pp.

has been published in the latest issue of Contributions to the History of Concepts.

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The volume comes recommended, both as an introduction into Historical Semantics and as a way for scholars in the field to make themselves familiar with other areas of this wide ranging research landscape. In addition, Müller and Schmieder offer a number of valuable new insights into the history and theory of their subject.

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The journal Francia Recensio has published a thorough and critical review by the Augsburg early modernist Kirill Abrosimov of the volume Denis Diderot und die Macht, favourably mentioning my contribution

Stimmen der Natur: Diderot, Tahiti und der homme naturel.

The text is available for download here.

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The journal Neue Politische Literatur just published my review of Franziska Rehlinghausstudy on the German concept of destiny from early modern times through to the First World War. It comes recommended as a detailed analysis of a concept that had crucial significance for intellectual, social and political processes during the period, but also as an exemplary use of the methods of Historical Semantics.

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The journal Traverse: Zeitschrift für Geschichte has just published a special issue on the topic of Temporal Experiences: Acceleration and Plural Temporalities (Zeiterfahrungen: Beschleunigung und plurale Temporalitäten). The table of contents may be found here.

In it, I have published a contribution on the concept of acceleration under the title:

Beschleunigung im langen 19. Jahrhundert: Einheit und Vielfalt einer Epochenkategorie

[Acceleration in the Long 19th Century: Unity and Plurality of a Temporal Category]

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The essay starts by contrasting the influential theories of acceleration formulated by Reinhart Koselleck and Hartmut Rosa. On this basis, it argues for a new approach to the history of acceleration based in the methodical tradition of Historical Semantics.

From this point of view, the usual interpretation of acceleration as the distinguishing and dominant temporal mode of the modern era is left behind in favor of a more empirical approach. Taking German debates on the topic during the 19th century as a case study, the article shows how acceleration was not a singular phenomenon (defining the modern era) at all. Rather, it could have many different meanings according to the perspective and interests of various groups as well as the changing historical contexts. In this manner, the article argues for a differentiated focus on the ways in which ‘modern’ people interpreted their own temporality instead of the sweeping, but ultimately oversimplified identification of modernity as the ‘era of acceleration’.

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The recent issue of the Dutch journal De Negentiende Eeuw published my review of Henk te Veldes new study

Sprekende politiek: Redenaars en hun publiek in de parlementaire gouden eeuw

[Speaking Politics: Orators and their Audience in the Golden Age of Parliamentarism]

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The book, which analyses the history of parliamentary rhetoric in Great Britain and France throughout the ‘long’ nineteenth century, comes highly recommened, both to scholars of the period and to a wider public.

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On the H-Soz-Kult platform, I have published a review of Alain Corbin’s Histoire du silence. De la Renaissance à nos jours.

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Alain Corbin: Histoire du silence. De la Renaissance
à nos jours, Paris 2016.

The book presents a wide ranging overview over the changing meanings and uses of silence in Western culture from the Renaisance to the present day. Alongside its historical analysis, it presents a case for the reappraisal of silence as a space of self-knowledge which – as the author argues – has too often been lost in the modern world of “hypermédiatisation” (p. 11).

The review may be found here.

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