GK Mediale Historiographien

Research training group (2005–2013)

at the universities of Erfurt, Jena, and Weimar
sponsored by the German Research Foundation (DFG)

Summary

Discussions in recent decades have focused on the relationship between history and the media from various perspectives. On the one hand, current news media have repeatedly triggered debates that revolve around how media stage historical events. On the other hand, more recent theories of both media and historiography have asked how different media determine the way in which historical situations and processes are coded. In all of these cases and problems, the question is not only an interdependence of how events and symbols are structured, but even more fundamentally the scope of the media conditions that determine the shape of what can be perceived and experienced as “history.”
The research training group Medial Historiographies takes discussions of this kind as an opportunity to pursue research that intertwines questions about the “history of media” with questions about the “media of historiography.” A historical starting point can be found, on the one hand, in those media upheavals that, since the nineteenth century, have supplemented a print culture of periodicals and books with other mass media, new technical communication media, and visual media; and on the other hand, in the emergence of modern concepts of history, which have been shaped since the end of the eighteenth century by the problematic tension between event and process.
The intertwining of media and history—from 1800 to the present—can be thematized here on various levels. While it is possible to recognize, in the mass media, conditions for selecting the relevance of events, different media of representation (text media and image media, analog media and digital media) provide various modes for representing historical contexts, ruptures, and upheavals. Moreover, while communication media (from telegraphy to the internet) produce a specific kind of historical data, historiography itself will always refer to those media infrastructures, such as archives and libraries, collections and museums, that make certain storage techniques available. These questions do not only concern the role of media in the formation of historical knowledge. Rather, they are expected to provide information about the effectiveness of media in different cultures, which will lead not least of all to the question of the possibility of media history itself: the question of how media and media technologies determine their own historiography.

Visit the website of Media Historiographies.