Before cultural history

Project head: Prof. Dr. Ulrich Breuer
Project staff: Dr. Christine Waldschmidt

The project aims to analyze early works of cultural historiography – of “cultural history before cultural history”. As far as content is concerned, the development of modern historical and cultural conscience is reconstructed; methodologically, the origins and enduring traditions of historical cultural sciences are detected. The analyzed corpus covers works from 1760-1810, due to the beginning of cultural historiography within this period.

Furthermore, in that period the historical conscience is reframed and historical disciplines are newly established or widened as university departments. Even though in the further history of cultural historiography the respective discourses are falling behind the historicists` influence, the so-called “Ältere Kulturgeschichte” (Older cultural historiography) at about 1900 and the “New cultural historiography” from 1980 on, the writers` own as well as foreign cultures are picked out as a central theme for the first time. Within the project, the first step is to register and to make accessible the respective texts and authors.Further research analyzes content-related and methodological aspects such as concepts of culture and history, anthropological foundations as well as concepts of historiography and science.

Questions arising from history of knowledge and from cultural sciences are raised and answered, such as the following: Which and which kind of knowledge about past and foreign cultures and environments is generated? How does this knowledge contribute to the period’s own self-concept? Which changes is history as an academic subject undergoing? In which forms of circulation and reception are the texts spread and read? Are there parallel or different contemporary movements in different countries? Which processes of cultural transfer can be reconstructed?

Partners from different disciplines collaborate to work through modern cultural historiography`s phase of formation.