Writing History, A Collaborative Venture

European University Institute, Department of History and Civilisation

seminar of Bo Stråth

Autumn/Spring 2001-2002

Mondays 11.00-13.00 in Sala Triaria, Villa Schifanoia


This seminar is based upon the premise that contemporary research in history should not be perused in solitude. The development of problem formulation, source selection, analysis, methodological approach and argumentation is often far more productive as a collective enterprise. Group reflection is an efficient means of achieving a critical distance which is decidedly different from that arrived at in individual work or even the hierarchic dialogue of a supervisor-researcher context.

Recent developments in historiography have drawn increased attention to the value of joint enterprises in theoretical and methodological reflection. The many challenges to "conventional" historiography have been central to this development. Examples of such challenges appear in the formulation of macro stories, problems related to historical narration, the temporality and contextuality of any historical writing, the expanding role of philosophical and value-oriented issues in historiography and the growing awareness of the importance of argumentation.

We maintain that no history should be composed and published without an awareness of these challenges and a willingness to confront them. This is not to propose that they can or should be approached from any specific theoretical or methodological point of departure. On the contrary they should be problematised and reflected upon from plural points of view which make the author aware of the strengths and weaknesses inherent in each individual approach. One additional long-term goal is also to promote an awareness of philosophic historiography.

In many respects this seminar is a continuation of the seminar Rewriting History in the academic year 1999-2000. The program of last year's Collaborative History seminar can be found in the archive. The form of publication of the papers on the web, one week prior to the session, and the opening of the session with discussants' criticism as well as their subsequent publication as a web debate will continue. It should be noted that active participation is open to all, this however, as the title implies, is connected not only with the presentation of a paper but also participation in the criticism of papers written by other seminar participants. The seminar is designed to offer researchers the opportunity to engage in a reflective process on how to rewrite history in their own work. This seminar will be augmented by an integrated workshop with the participation of external guests. One such parallel event at the Institute this year is the seminar Stranger. We invite both participants in the seminar as well as all others to contribute to the web-debate in our on-line magazine Collaborative History.


8 October
                Carsten Humlebæk
                Remembering a Civil Car: How Victory Becomes Peace
                Commemorative Activity in the Spanish Press on the Anniversaries of the Civil War

15 October
                Augusta Dimou
                Paths towards Modernity, Intellectuals and the Contextualization of Socialism in the Balkans (pdf)
                Discussant: Thomas Jørgensen

22 October
                Thomas Hippler
                Citizenship and Disciplin
                Discussant: Thomas Cayet

29 October
                Hagen Schulz-Forberg
               Travel as a National Discours
                Comparing Conceptions and Perceptions of National Identity inTravel Writing:
                London, Paris, Berlin, 1890-1939
                Discussant: Philipp Müller

5 November
                (NB: 9.30-13.00 Double Seminar followed by a joint lunch)
                Renate Huber
               "Social" Space Matches "Symbolic" Space?
                Gendered Regional and National Identities within a Heterogeneous Post-War Society 

                Discussants: Eirinn Larsen and Aidan O'Malley
                James Kaye
                Heim and the Unheimlich or Modernity: Visions of Nations and Home in Idyllic Landscapes
                Heimat: Social and Symbolic Space

12 November
                Morakot Jewachinda
                The Interplay between 'Regions' and 'Cultures', Discourses and Policies:
                Polity and Market Making of the European Union
                Discussant: Thomas Fetzer

19 November
                Nick Lambert
                Narrating Jewish Identity in Contemporary Britain, Italy and the Netherlands
                (Two introductory. i.e. pre-research result, chapters are available to download:
                one and two)

26 November
                Peter Apor
               The Silence of Remembering: Fragments of an Introduction and Conclusions

3 December
                Richard Kearney, DVD and Discussion

10 December
                Video production of a seminar initiating the joint seminar Strangers, Gods and Daemons between Boston College and the IUE

               Writing History, A Collaborative Venture