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"We Need to Get Away from a Culture of Denial"?

The German-Herero War in Politics and Textbooks

Lars Müller

The question of whether the German-Herero War (1904-1907) may be called a genocide has been debated in German politics for over twenty years. This article explores the representations of this event in German history textbooks in the context of this ongoing debate. Textbooks are not merely the end product of a negotiation process. Rather, as media and objects of memory politics, they are part of a societal negotiation process to determine relevant knowledge. Changes made to textbooks in relation to this controversial topic take place in very short periods of time and often go beyond what appears to meet with mutual agreement in the political sphere.

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What Stories Are Being Told?

Two Case Studies of (Grand) Narratives from and of the German Democratic Republic in Current Oberstufe Textbooks

Elizabeth Priester Steding

Much like history textbooks, literature textbooks produce a grand narrative, telling a nation's story via its literature. This article examines the presentation of literature of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) in upper level secondary school (Oberstufe) textbooks published in Germany in 2009 and 2010. Twenty years after German unification, literature textbooks are largely divided into two groups in accordance with their handling of literature from the failed socialist state: some focus on ideological criticism of the GDR, and some choose to avoid politics as much as possible. Both options result in a simplistic, even reductionist (grand) narrative of GDR literature. Case studies on Christa Wolf and Günter Grass reveal a consistent, positive portrayal of West German literature and a polarized representation of GDR literature.

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Berlin's Potsdamer Platz as an Interactive Textbook

Space, Perspective, and Critical Research Skills

Maria Stehle

This article investigates the potential of one of the most contested and debated spaces of German Studies research, the Postdamer Platz in Berlin, as an interactive "textbook." By employing the notion of "play" the areas around the commercialized Postdamer Platz can be "read" and explored as contradictory, chaotic, messy, and haunted by ghosts of the past, despite—or possibly amplified by—the newly constructed, glossy surfaces of global media and capitalism that form a center for the German capital. I consider the subversive possibilities as well as the limits of this playful approach to teaching, exploring, and learning about commercialized urban centers in the twenty-first century.

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Gerdien Jonker

In this article, I explore the dominant narratives about Islam in German history textbooks from the eighteenth century until the present day. I thereby deconstruct a longue durée script with a rather curious pattern. Until the 1980s, textbook narratives about Islam were rooted exclusively in people's historical imagination. Only when the children of Turkish workers entered the classroom did textbook authors try to accommodate knowledge based on real encounters. By addressing the di erent stages of this longue durée script, I enquire into the functions of narratives as they underpinned a German and European "we."

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The Significance of the Body

The Construction of Masculinity among German Students

Jurgen Budde

This article discusses strategies of constructing masculinity among German school boys and shows the close interrelation of social status, social and symbolic value, and the success or failure of playing with male gender orders. It highlights the important role of the body in these processes. Based on data from ethnographical research the article shows that the body is an actor as well as target in the subordination strategies, which often includes the feminisation of other boys

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Philipp Mittnik

*Full text is in German

National Socialism in German, Austrian and English Secondary School Textbooks (1980–2017)

English Abstract

This article analyzes a selection of German, Austrian and English textbooks dealing with National Socialism. By adopting Waltraud Schreiber’s methodology of categorial textbook analysis, the article presents the surface structure and building blocks as a basis for further analysis. The occurrence (or absence) of the pedagogical historical principle of multiperspectivity is examined with reference to the example of sections concerning “Youth in National Socialism.” Subsequently, the study explores the role of multiperspectivity in the construction of critical historical consciousness. This is followed by a deconstruction of the image of women presented in the textbooks, with particular emphasis on simplifications.

German Abstract

Die Analyse von Schulbüchern aus Deutschland, Österreich und England zum Themenbereich Nationalsozialismus stehen im Zentrum dieses Artikels. Als Methodologie wird die kategoriale Schulbuchanalyse nach Waltraud Schreiber angewandt. Die Erarbeitung der Oberflächenstruktur und der Bausteine werden als Grundlage für weitere Analyseschritte präsentiert. Das (Nicht-) Vorkommen des bedeutenden geschichtsdidaktischen Prinzips der Multiperspektivität wird am Beispiel des Abschnittes „Jugend im Nationalsozialismus“ beschrieben. Multiperspektivität und deren Bedeutung für den Aufbau eines kritischen Geschichtsbewusstseins wird in einem weiteren Schritt hervorgehoben. Abschließend wird das in den Schulbüchern präsentierte Frauenbild dekonstruiert und auf die problematischen Vereinfachungen hingewiesen.

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Memory Practices in the Classroom

On Reproducing, Destabilizing and Interrupting Majority Memories

Johanna Ahlrichs, Katharina Baier, Barbara Christophe, Felicitas Macgilchrist, Patrick Mielke, and Roman Richtera

This article draws on memory studies and media studies to explore how memory practices unfold in schools today. It explores history education as a media- saturated cultural site in which particular social orderings and categorizations emerge as commonsensical and others are contested. Describing vignettes from ethnographic fieldwork in German secondary schools, this article identifies different memory practices as a nexus of pupils, teachers, blackboards, pens, textbooks, and online videos that enacts what counts as worth remembering today: reproduction; destabilization without explicit contestation; and interruption. Exploring mediated memory practices thus highlights an array of (often unintended) ways of making the past present.

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Tom Verschaffel and Kaat Wils

The political use and instrumentalization of history is a central theme within the historiography of history education. Neither history nor education is a politically neutral domain; history education is and has always been a highly politicized phenomenon. For his recent article on the development of history education in England, Germany, and the Netherlands throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the Dutch history didactician Arie Wilschut chose the significant title, “History at the Mercy of Politicians and Ideologies.” History education, Wilschut argues, has, in all three countries, continually—with a short break in the 1960s and 1970s—been instrumentalized by national politics to the detriment of unbiased interpretations of the past.

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New Trends in History Textbook Research

Issues and Methodologies toward a School Historiography

Maria Repoussi and Nicole Tutiaux-Guillon

This article traces the developments within history textbook research as presented at the 2009 conference of the International Society for History Didactics (ISHD), held in cooperation with the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research in Braunschweig, Germany. The article claims that significant developments reveal school historiography to be a challenged area for history didactics. Key concepts and theoretical frames require further discussion in order to develop history didactics not only as an area for social and political responsibilities but also as a theoretical discipline.

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Andreas Weiß

The establishment of the humanities and social sciences in Germany was closely connected with the emergence and legitimization of the nation-state. Geography and history were in particular supposed to assume a legitimizing function; consequently, a