Konversationsabend: Historiography

Wed. Mar. 14, 2018 - 6:00pm - 9:00pm

Our topic on the 14th is a discussion of historiography (Geschichtsschreibung) in general and how it plays out in Germany. We have the honor and pleasure to welcome Prof. Frank Trommler from the University of Pennsylvania who will talk with us about The Making of History in Germany and what is left of it in the Annals of Historiography.

 As we all know, historiography is an old trade – it was once scratched on stone in cuneiform, painted on murals in hieroglyphs, and today it reaches us even from Facebook and Twitter. It created narratives claiming national or tribal greatness, legitimation of rulership, moral superiority of one group, the inferiority of another, and rained on us floods of facts and fiction. The emergence of a new fascination with history in the 18th and 19th century, this time with emphasis on facts led to new types of methodical and scholarly research and the establishment of special and powerful departments of history at our universities. Are universities and other institutions now guards of a new way to write history solidly based on facts? Or has there simply been created an ever growing “smorgasbord” of facts for cherry-picking?

Let’s see in particular what happened with German national historiography in the 19th century and the parallel efforts of American historians to create their own National History. And what happened to the concept of German National History after the capitulation in 1945 and how did West-German historians gain and lose a key function in dealing with the Holocaust and the NS era?

I think these are questions relevant to all of us, and we are lucky to have Prof. Trommler with us whose interests, studies and publications have centered on these issues for decades.

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