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Research Projects of the University of Cologne‘s Faculty of Arts and Humanities 2017/2018

Public History Network

Image: Stefanie Samida

Theory and Methodology of a new Sub-Discipline of History

Jun.-Prof. Dr. Christine Gundermann | History

Funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG)

In September 2017 the network, which is funded by the DFG, was initiated. For the first time, it enables systematic communication about the theoretical and methodological foundation of public history, which until now was mostly understood as “applied history” and therefore regarded and discussed in a praxeologically manner.
At a total of six workshops, we will focus on key concepts, theories and methods and particularly on empirical research of a public history understood as a sub-discipline of history that, at the same time, in the sense of its object and institutionalization as a degree programme, has to be understood and discussed trans-disciplinarily and application-oriented. The network therefore connects historians as well as scholars of history didactics  with academics from the disciplines of prehistory, art history, ethnology and archaeology and media studies. Our team consists of 12 junior researchers from eight different research hubs, among them the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, the Universities of Hamburg, Flensburg and Freiburg, Utrecht University, the Centre for Contemporary History in Potsdam and the Heidelberg School of Education.
We are opening up the until now isolated discourses on memory culture (contemporary history) and historical culture (didactics of history) as without doubt central foundations of an academic public history and broadening them while sharpening the profile of public history as a sub discipline of history through this fusion.
We are thereby focusing on three thematic areas that will allow us to harmonize traditional and “non-traditional” key concepts of public history: experiencing history, making history and transferring history. These areas, which are not always selective, reflect the most important questions of public history addressing the historicization of public history, its theoretical and methodological foundations as well as its descriptive models.
At the same time, these three dimensions will enable us to analytically access public history in a manner that is intermedia and determines and enables an epoch-inclusive access to phenomena of cultural history. In this manner, media specific discourse on history in exhibitions, television, the internet and other media can and will be be interconnected. Our findings will also benefit research and teaching as they will establish important impetus for the curricula of this new sub-discipline.

Text: Christine Gundermann



Prof. Dr. Christine Gundermann