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Posts Tagged ‘Historiography’

Summer break is coming to an end and soon the winter term will start again. As usual, I will be offering an intensive ‘Seminar’ course as well as a smaller ‘Übung’ or reading course.

The Fourth Estate: Press and Politics in Germany and France (1789-1914)

Whereas the constitutive role of the press in any well-functioning democracy stands beyond doubt today, at the same time its power in modern ‘mediocracies’ is often the target of criticism. The origins of this tension lie in the 19th century – when the press developed an unprecedented importance to political processes. In this seminar, these developments are traced from a comparative viewpoint, focusing on the French and German cases.

The Power of Language: Introduction to Historical Semantics

Since the emergence of the so-called ‘linguistic turn’ in the 1970s a variety of new theoretical and methodological approaches in the field of historiography have stressed the role of language not only as an indicator, but also as a factor in historical processes. This reading course offers an introduction to the different theoretical research models developped in this context as well as to their empirical results.

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My courses for the summer semester 2012 are:

Political Assassinations in the long 19th Century (from Jean Paul Marat to Franz Ferdinand)
Even today, political assassinations are by no means rare. Time and again, individuals or groups decide to use targeted violence as a means to attack or even end a political order that is – in their eyes – unjust. Most often, the key factor in their choice of target is not just his or her political function, but especially their symbolic significance as the representative of a certain political system. The reaction to such events has always been highly controversial, such that at times, the assassins themselves (Charlotte Corday, Carl Ludwig Sand, John Wilkes Booth, Gavrilo Princip) subsequently became as famous as their victims. Taking our starting point from a number of European and American case studies, this course traces the history of the phenomenon of political assassinations in the ‘long’ 19th century. Beyond the individual histories of single (successful or unsuccessful) attempts, its focus will lie on the attempt to identify long-term developments and trends. In addition to the assassin’s methods, motives and goals, we will discuss the multifarious dimensions of impact and reaction in politics, the justice system, the media and the culture as a whole.

The Bielefeld School of Social History: History and Significance of a Historiographical Program
It is without doubt that the so-called ‘Bielefeld School’ of social history marks one of the decisive turning point in the history of (Western) German historiography in the 20th Century. In the 70s, a group of historians around Hans-Ulrich Wehler and Jürgen Kocka, voiced an opposition to the Historicism then dominant in the historical field. Instead of the traditional history of political events, their focus was on the theory based interpretation of long-term structural developments, a full fledge ‘history of society’. Even if this program of historiographical innovation was controversial from the start, it has unmistakably had a profound influence on historiographical writing in Germany and beyond. For all that, however, from the 80s onwards, the paradigm of social history, came under criticism – especially from the perspective of new varieties of so-called ‘cultural history’. Since then, new models of historiography – from discourse analysis to the history of everyday life, from gender history to the plurality of ‘turns’ – seem to have displaced social history as the discipline’s dominant paradigm. And yet, in recent years, many have argued for the integration of cultural and social history. Against this background, this course aims on the basis of several programmatic texts to trace the history of the Bielefeld School and its critics. In a second step, we will discuss the significance of the Bielefeld program for historiography in the present.

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