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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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After some delay, a research guide written by my colleagues and me at the chair of Western European History at Freiburg University has been published on the Clio-Online platform.

Theo Jung / Sonja Levsen / Sabine Mischner / Friedemann Pestel / Christina Schröer, Das lange 19. Jahrhundert, in: Clio Guide – Ein Handbuch zu digitalen Ressourcen für die Geschichtswissenschaften, Hrsg. von Laura Busse, Wilfried Enderle, Rüdiger Hohls, Gregor Horstkemper, Thomas Meyer, Jens Prellwitz, Annette Schuhmann, Berlin 2016 (=Historisches Forum, Bd. 19), http://www.clio-online.de/guides/epochen/das-lange-neunzehnte-jahrhundert/2016.

In it, we present a broad overview over the digital resources presently available to historians of the ‘long’ nineteenth century, ranging from search catalogues and source databases to institutional frameworks and communication platforms. It aims to ‘guide’ the student and scholar through this new field of expertise as well as provide a critical evaluation of the possibilities and pitfalls opened up by the availability of these new gateways to information and source materials.

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The proceedings of a conference I attended two years ago in Heidelberg have been published as volume 18 in the series Schriften zur politischen Kultur der Weimarer Republik by Peter Lang.

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My own contribution, titled

Eine “Klage, die so alt ist, als die Geschichte”? Dimensionen des Wandels im Diskurs der modernen Kulturkritik

(A “Complaint as old as History itself”? Dimensions of Change in the Discourse of Modern Cultural Criticism)

develops an analytical model to describe four dimensions of change in the modern discourse of cultural criticism since the late eighteenth century.

[EDIT: the text is now available online here.]

Click here for the volume’s contents, a short introductory text, part of the introduction and the publisher’s page.

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In January of 2014, a group of colleagues from the Freiburg history department and I founded the ‘Reading Workshop History and Theory’ (Lektürewerkstatt Geschichte und Theorie). Its aim is to bring together scholars and students from all disciplines of the humanities with an interest in the theoretical basis of their respective fields.

Starting point was the observation that although the necessity to coordinate theoretical reflection and empirical research is often stressed, in practice the links between the two aspects are often neglected. The reading workshop confronts this weakness by providing an informal forum for rigorous discussion of the theoretical foundations of research in the humanities.

Two years onward, we have been discussing a wide variety of themes, such as:

  • Postcolonialism
  • Walter Benjamin
  • Niklas Luhmann
  • Spatial turn
  • Carl Schmitt
  • Actor-Network-Theory
  • Paul Ricœur
  • Max Weber
  • Michel Foucault
  • … and many others

Since this is a self-organized group and not an official teaching course, we are flexible with regard to themes, dates as well as to the form of discussion.

Anyone in the Freiburg area – from the first semester student up to the PhD and beyond – interested in joining is cordially invited to send an email to: geschichteundtheorie@gmail.com.

Our poster:

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Next week, 24 and 25 September, I’ll be participating in a workshop held in Marburg, titled:

Aristokratismus. Historische und literarische Semantik von ‘Adel’ zwischen Kulturkritik der Jahrhundertwende und Nationalsozialismus (1890-1945).

Aristocratism. Historical and Literary Semantics of ‘Aristocracy’ between Cultural Criticism of the Turn of the Century and National Socialism (1890-1945)

The workshop is part of a DFG-funded research project on the same theme and is organized by Prof. Dr. Eckart Conze, PD Dr. Jochen Strobel, Daniel Thiel und Jan de Vries.

My paper pursues a diachronic comparison of German discourses of cultural criticism around 1800 and around 1900, focussing on the differences in the use of semantics of aristocracy in these contexts. Thus, the paper offers an empirical case study using a model distinguishing between four dimensions of change in the history of cultural criticism I formulated last year on a conference in Heidelberg (soon to be published in its proceedings).

The Call for Papers for the Marburg workshop may be found here.

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On 9 and 10 July, I will be participating in a workshop in Berlin, organized by the DFG research network Auditory Knowledge in Transition. The workshop’s title is “Auditory Knowledge in Politics: The Sound of Power and the Power of Sounds”.

A keynote lecture by professor Monika Dommann of Zürich University with the title “Record, Rewind, Rewrite? Eine akustische Geschichtsschreibung der Presidential Tapes” will be held on Thursday July 9th, at 6 PM at the Seminarzentrum Silberlaube Otto-von-Simson-Straße 26 (Raum L 116). All are welcome.

I myself will comment upon a paper presented by my friend Daniel Morat of the Free University of Berlin.

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A short review I wrote about Herman Paul’s new introduction to the philosophy of history has been published on the website of the International Network for Theory of History.  The book, which offers an overview over the theoretical foundations of the historical discipline to Dutch students, comes highly recommended. The review (in English)  can be found here.

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