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NCCR Mediality

Die Nationalen Forschungsschwerpunkte (NFS) sind ein Förderungsmittel des Schweizerischen Nationalfonds.
Y. Implosion
Y.7. Precarious Things. Materiality and Literacy in the Historiography of the late Enlightenment and Historicism

So far scholars have described the history of historiography at the turning point between the Enlightenment and Historicism in two ways: either as a process of scientization or as an interplay between literary aestheticization and methods of source criticism. Both narratives concentrate on written history. The present project, however, is based on the hypothesis that the processes of transformation around 1800 took place in a more complex medial situation. An essential aspect was the sharpening contrast between literacy and materiality. Therefore the project’s focus is on material ,remnants\' and historical buildings. The emerging historiography struggled to integrate these things. In the formative phase of modern historiography historians asked questions about the proportion of materiality and mediality, of presence and representation, of description and narration. Our project aims to analyze models of explanation, in particular the clash between Premodernity and Modernity. What impact did these contemporary models have on the theory and practices of media?
In today’s popular perception old buildings and ruins are the most important manifestation of historicity. The project explores the shift from mere old things to epistemic things of historicity during the eighteenth and the long nineteenth centuries. By interpreting buildings as media, they can be located between materiality and narrativity. The recipients of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries drew or rejected this distinction according to their institutional, habitual and denominational background. The theoretical model of buildings as media allows the project to concentrate on the shifting action potential of the buildings. The main artifacts under consideration are buildings with a Habsburgian past: the ruins of the castle of Habsburg, the castle of Kyburg and the former monastery of Koenigsfelden.