The Subject of/(in) History

Das Subjekt (in) der Geschichte

Abstract: This essay introduces ‘historical consciousness’ as one of the core concepts of historical learning. A comprehensive typology is needed in order to compare systematically the core concepts in an intercultural perspective. Such typology will be sketched out on the example of the comparison between three different approaches to the concept of ‘historical consciousness’: It will be asked (1) how the subject of the historically conscious ‘human being(s)’ is conceptualized in the various approaches and (2) how the modus operandi of developing and/or constructing ‘historical consciousness’ is conceptualized. a) The first type to be introduced refers to Hans-Georg Gadamer’s concept of historical consciousness which is constituted in a dialectic process between self-reflection and the hermeneutic interpretation of historical sources against the universal horizon of history. Complementary, two types of historical sense-making as developed by Jörn Rüsen will be discussed: b) the four modi of historical sense-making by narrating history, where narration is introduced as an indispensable mental operation by which human experience is being interpreted in [the course of] time; c) historical consciousness as a social construction in the communicative process, where historical consciousness develops in the ‘here and now’ of interaction between several persons involved in the process of negotiating cogent/plausible historical narratives.
Languages: English, German

When working on the core concepts of history didactics/historical education, such as “historical consciousness”, “historical thinking” or “historical culture” in an intercultural perspective, a comprehensive typology is needed in order to compare the concepts systematically. In this essay, the elaboration of such a typology will be sketched out by the use of examples for two aspects of the core concept of “historical consciousness” by focusing on two questions: (1) How is the subject of historically conscious “human being(s)” conceptualized in the various approaches? and (2) How is the modus operandi of developing and/or constructing “historical consciousness” conceptualized?


“Historical Self-reflection’[1]

In a paper first published 2017, Peter Seixas worked on the actual challenges for historical education and compared different regional approaches to the core concepts.[2] We take the occasion to…

Categories: 8 (2020) 1

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