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Posts Tagged ‘Time’

The latest issue of the Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaft includes a review I wrote about Lucian Hölscher’s book

Zeitgärten. Zeitfiguren in der Geschichte der Neuzeit (Göttingen 2020)

Zeitgärten - Lucian Hölscher | Wallstein Verlag

Its broad ranging insights into the theory of history build on a close re-reading of 25 classics of historical writing from the 18th to the 21st century, from Ranke and Droysen up to Eric Hobsbawm, Mark Mazower, Ulrich Herbert and even my own PhD supervisor, Willibald Steinmetz. The book comes highly recommended to all interested in the theory of historiographical writing and its conteptualizations of historical temporality.

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In November 2018, the Arbeitskreis Geschichte + Theorie in cooperation with the Centre for Contemporary History held a conference under the title “Times of the Event: A New Survey of a Historical Category”. Building on its papers and discussions, my colleague Anna Karla (Cologne) and I have been taking the topic further, lead to the publication of a forum in History & Theory.

The forum consists of an introduction and four contributions.

Abstracts can be found below. Most texts are available free of charge under a Creative Commons licence.

At this time, I would like to take the opportunity to thank my co-editor, Dr. Anna Karla, the contributors, Dr. Fernando Esposito and Dr. Britta Hochkirchen, as well as Dr. Jörn Eiben, who played a vital part in the early conceptualization of this project as well as in the organization of the original conference.

Theo Jung / Anna Karla: Times of the Event: An Introduction

This introduction sets the stage for the following contributions by outlining the current state of research on the two fundamental categories that this forum brings together: the event and time. In a brief survey, we discuss the ways in which the temporality of events has been theorized across disciplines. We also present our core argument for understanding the event as a temporal focal point. In dialogue with existing approaches, we seek to develop a theoretically enriched and empirically fruitful conceptualization of the event, thus offering new perspectives to the academic historiography of events as well as to historical culture at large.

Fernando Esposito: Despite Singularity: The Event and Its Manifold Structures of Repetition

This article’s principle interest is in the “structures of repetition” that characterize supposedly singular events. The starting point for the analysis is Reinhart Koselleck’s discussion of the event in “Structures of Repetition in Language and History.” Koselleck perceived events as arising from metahistorical structures that characterize all human histories regardless of the eras in which they took place and are narrated. This article scrutinizes Koselleck’s understanding of the event as well as the underlying “structures of repetition” shaping it. In considering the question of the temporality of the event, this article distinguishes three strata of repetitive structures. First, it examines a seemingly trivial historiographical structure of repetition of the event, which is the iterative proclamation of the return of the event. It then analyzes Koselleck’s foundational, yet rarely truly appreciated, “Structures of Repetition in Language and History” and maps out the fundamental structures of repetition, which are the conditions of possibility of events. Finally, it hints at a further linguistic stratum of repetitive structures. In light of growing interest in Koselleck’s work in both German and Anglophone historiography, this article systematizes the manifold structures of repetition against the backdrop of current explorations of the event’s temporality, thus surveying a facet of Koselleck’s pioneering work that is too often forgotten.

Britta Hochkirchen: Beyond Representation: Pictorial Temporality and the Relational Time of the Event

Pictures are often connected with the mediation of the event but, paradoxically, not with temporality as such. Although there are several existing approaches that focus on the interplay between the event and its literary representation, the relation between pictorial time and the temporal constitution of the event remains unexplored. The field of image theory has offered insights into the multiple dimensions of the picture’s temporality. It has shown that the picture’s temporality concerns not only the depicted event but also the picture’s immanent modes of producing different temporalities within one pictorial plane. The picture thus not only makes visible but also generates multilayered times of the event. This article brings together insights from image theory and from theories of historical times to demonstrate the relationship between the times of the event and the inner logic of the picture. In order to identify the various qualities of the picture that structure the times of the event, this article uses the case study of Reinhart Koselleck’s practical and theoretical work with pictures. This article reads Koselleck’s approaches to pictures alongside new insights concerning the relationality of time to the event and the picture. By exploring the picture’s agency with regards to the politics of time, this article lays bare the picture’s potential to structure the times of the event.

Theo Jung: Events Getting Ahead of Themselves: Rethinking the Temporality of Expectations

Whereas most theoretical and historiographical accounts of the event have focused on its present and past dimensions, this article addresses the relatively underexplored phenomenon of the future event. As temporal junctures, events often already elicit effects before they come to pass, and even if they never do. Building on foundational work on the relation between experience and expectation by Hans-Georg Gadamer and Reinhart Koselleck as well as on current historiographical debates on “past futures,” I develop a threefold typology of the future event, distinguishing between the assumption of the routine event, the expectation of the relative event, and the adumbration of the radical event. Engaging with case studies like the year 2000, the ambivalent character of socalled media events, and ongoing debates about a possible climate collapse and the COVID-19 pandemic, I show how reconsidering the complex temporalities of the future event can shed new light on the ways in which past societies made their futures present.

Anna Karla: Controversial Chronologies: The Temporal Demarcation of Historic Events

In everyday language and in historiography, influential events are commonly described as “historic” but are rarely defined from a theoretical standpoint. Discussing temporal demarcations of events by scholars—in particular William H. Sewell Jr.’s foundational study of the Storming of the Bastille—this article considers the contemporary urge to define the event’s temporal boundaries to better evaluate the alleged importance of certain events in history. Rather than perpetuating the constructivist idea that any event possesses a fundamentally interpretable character, it crafts a theoretical definition of the historic event that distinguishes between its flexible fringes and its rather stable core. Fixing an event as an anchor point on the timeline of history is thus presented as a process that provokes political, social, and—last but not least—financial controversies. As this article shows with examples from the history of revolutions reaching from the late eighteenth century to the early twenty‐first century, such epoch‐making events are essentially shaped by their flexible beginning and ending points. Although the cores of these events remain strikingly stable, their temporal fringes become objects of highly controversial discussions.

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Under the title

Times of the Event: A New Survey of a Historical Category

(Die Zeiten des Ereignisses: Neuvermessung einer historischen Kategorie)

the organizers (Anna Karla (Köln), Jörn Eiben (Hamburg) and myself) are proud to announce the 40th workshop by the Arbeitskreis Geschichte + Theorie, this time in cooperation with the Centre for Contemporary History, to be held in Potsdam on November 9 – 10.

Focusing on its specific temporality, the workshop aims to develop a new theoretical understanding of the event as a fundamental historical category.

Participants include: Frank Bösch (Potsdam), Albert Schirrmeister (Paris), Tobias Hasenberg (Cologne), Thomas Mergel (Berlin), Britta Hochkirchen (Bielefeld), Ramon Voges (Leipzig), Caroline Rothauge (Eichstätt-Ingolstadt), Silvan Niedermeier (Erfurt), Achim Landwehr (Düsseldorf), Uwe Lübken (Munich), Christian Holtorf (Coburg), Alexander Gall (Munich), Iris Schröder (Erfurt), Tobias Becker (London) (more on his contribution here), Fernando Esposito (Tübingen), Ulrike Jureit (Hamburg) and Aleida Assmann (Constance).

The workshop program, including details on the venue, may be found here and here. The working language is German. All are welcome, but registration by email is appreciated.

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Within the framework of a series of workshops on different aspects of historical temporalities planned by the Arbeitskreis Geschichte + Theorie, Anna Karla, Jörn Eiben and I are organizing a workshop in November 2018 on the event in history.

Focusing on its specific temporality, we seek to develop a new theoretical understanding of this central historical category.

Title:

Times of the Event: A New Survey of a Historical Category

(Die Zeiten des Ereignisses: Neuvermessung einer historischen Kategorie)

A call for papers has jus been published on H-Soz-Kult. Abstracts from scholars working on related subjects are very welcome.

To learn more, click here.

Die Zeiten des Ereignisses. Neuvermessung einer historischen Kategorie, 09.11.2018 – 10.11.2018 Köln, in: H-Soz-Kult, 20.09.2017, <www.hsozkult.de/event/id/termine-35036>.

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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]

978-3-905315-69-1.png

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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Next week, I will be presenting a paper at an academic workshop organized by Juri Auderset, Andreas Behr, Philipp Müller and Aline Steinbrecher at the University of Fribourg (CH). The workshop’s topic is “Zeiterfahrung. Untersuchungen über Beschleunigung und Entschleunigung von Geschichte” (Temporal Experience: Studies on Acceleration and Deceleration in History). It’s ultimate goal is to prepare a special issue of the journal Traverse: Zeitschrift für Geschichte in 2016.

The topic of my paper is the variety of discourses of acceleration in nineteenth century germany. Considering the influential views of accelleration formulated by Hartmut Rosa and Reinhart Koselleck in terms of attempts at a general temporal theory of modernization, the paper points to the method of Historical Semantics as a way to more fruitfully  consider the plurality of experiences and discourses of temporality in this period. Instead of searching for a single, specific temporality of the modern era, the paper argues for a differentiated view of the pluriform ways in which contemporaries experienced the temporal nature of their own present.

See here for the call for fapers and here for the workshop’s program.

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Some of my writing has been made available online through the Freidoks server at Freiburg University.

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On December 2nd, I will present a lecture within the framework of a series titled “New Research in History”.

In this series, which is directed specifically at highschool teachers and students aspiring to become teachers, fifteen historians from Freiburg University present the current ‘state of the art’ in their respective fields of expertise. They ask which current developments in the academic historical discipline are such that they deserve incorporation into the history curricula at the highschool level. How has our understanding of history changed and how may this be reflected in history teaching?

My lecture will be concerned with the origins of modernity in the so-called ‘Sattelzeit’ era. Its title is:

Anfang der Moderne. Die ‚Sattelzeit‘ (ca. 1750-1850) in atlantischer Perspektive

(The Onset of Modernity. The ‘Sattelzeit’ (ca. 1750-1850) in Atlantic Perspective)

For more information, click here.
For the series’ program, click here.

 

Addition (February 10, 2014)

The powerpoint file of this presentation has been made available through the website and may be found here.

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At a workshop at the ZiF in Bielefeld, I will be presenting a paper on the use of the concept of zeitgeist in early nineteenth century political discourse, titled:

The Politics of Time: Zeitgeist in Early Nineteenth-Century Political Discourse.

The workshop, titled “Zeitgeist: an Inquiry into the Media of Time-Specific Cultural Patterns”, takes place from 19 to 21 September, 2013. For the programm, click here. For the workshop’s concept, click here.

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This summer semester I will be teaching one master seminar and an exercise course on the reading of French sources. As usual, I have assembled a ‘pearltree’ for each of these courses with weblinks to the specific themes.

A History of Time – Changing Cultures of Temporality (ca. 1750-1850)
(Pearltree – websites on this topic)

and

Politeness – Sources on the History of Manners in France (ca. 1700-1850)
(Pearltree – websites on this topic)

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