Theory is an operation that involves thinking about history and occurs likewise in confrontation with texts. This engagement can be understood in two ways as being at work: firstly, as an activity that is at work, in other words a continuous action or work in progress, and secondly, as an operation that occurs at work, whereby work can mean the text itself or the explicit and implicit theories or theoretical questions it brings to light. In the latter case, the text can be seen as the agent at work.
Based on these preliminary theoretical considerations, the idea behind the “History Theory (Re)read” section is to reflect on older and more recent, familiar and unknown, lost or forgotten texts in terms of their theoretical essence or the historico-theoretical questions they elaborate or suggest, and to (re)read them from a current perspective. We want to put up for discussion the different, perhaps controversial interpretations of these texts, but also to acquaint you with less familiar or even unfamiliar older and more recent texts, as well as forgotten or buried historico-theoretical traditions.
We therefore invite you to engage in the work and (re)read texts on theory of history and theoretical questions in the sense described above. Reviews of recently published studies and annotated translations of (or excerpts from) older or more recent texts are, of course, also welcome. Questions might include:
- What is the theoretical basis of the text? What historico-theoretical positions are represented, what questions are raised (and answered), what possibilities and limits of historical knowledge are indicated?
- Does the text even produce its own theory and is thus itself actively at work?
- To what extent do the historico-theoretical assumptions, positions and questions read differently in the current context, in what sense do they contradict existing patterns of interpretation in the realm of theory of history?
- What is their relevance for the practice of historical work?