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Begriffene Geschichte – Geschichte begreifen

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Holger Thünemann, Jürgen Elvert, Christine Gundermann and Wolfgang Hasberg

Wer Geschichte in ihrem Wesen begriffen hat, der weiß, dass der Gegenwart immer eine Zukunft, dass dem Heute immer ein Morgen folgt. Jörn Rüsen hat sich mit dem einmal Erreichten nie zufrieden gegeben, sondern hat in den vergangenen fünf Jahrzehnten seit seiner Promotion an der Universität zu Köln immer wieder zentrale wissenschaftliche Beiträge zum besseren Begreifen der Geschichte vorgelegt. Weggefährten sowie Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftler aus dem In- und Ausland, die seinen Weg weiter verfolgen, knüpfen in diesem Band an Rüsens Œuvre an und setzen sich mit seinen geschichtstheoretischen, geschichtsdidaktischen und kulturwissenschaftlichen Positionen produktiv auseinander.

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Narrative Interpretation in History (and Life)

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Abstract What should history teachers do with the problem of conflicting narratives of history? Jörn Rüsen’s concept of Triftigkeit, or plausibility, provides crucial assistance. This paper proposes an elaboration of his dimensions of plausibility, using the Canadian model of six historical thinking concepts.

In a paper published in 2000, I grappled with the pedagogical problem raised by two conflicting narrative interpretations of indigenous-settler relations in British Columbia: a “virgin land” thesis, which had provided the basis for nineteenth century European appropriation of territory and settlement vs. a “nation-to-nation” recognition that was the basis of the recent Nisga’a treaty negotiations, the first in British Columbia since it became part of the Canadian Confederation.1 I presented this as a case of the ubiquitous problem of discrepancy, conflict and contradiction among historical interpretations – the lifeblood of academic history. I asked how we should think about the teaching of history in light of this undeniable reality. Should we, like the textbooks I read in my childhood, present one narrative that historians, curriculum boards or other experts had concluded was the best? Alternatively, should we present students with conflicting interpretations and teach them the disciplinary tools to be able to judge for themselves the merits and shortcomings of each (a “disciplinary” approach)? Or, I asked finally, are we forced to accept the Foucauldian claim that all knowledge is an expression of position and power, to believe Hayden White’s argument that historians impose narratives on the inchoate past as a...

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