Some Thoughts on the History of Twentieth-Century German Basic Concepts

Roundtable discussion: Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe Reloaded? Writing the Conceptual History of the Twentieth Century. Th e focus of the lexicon Geschichtliche Grundbegriff e and of other studies on conceptual history was primarily on the so-called Sattelzeit (1750–1850). In that vein, more recent collaborative projects in the fi eld of conceptual history have likewise tended to ignore the twentieth century. Th e aim of this roundtable is to initiate a discussion as to whether a history of German basic concepts of the twentieth century is to be written, and if so, how? Th e pivotal question in this respect is whether the methodological and theoretical categories Reinhart Koselleck elaborated for the Geschichtliche Grundbegriff e are readily applicable for such a project, or if new starting points need to be identifi ed. Finally, consideration needs to be given to the specifi c challenges facing a contemporary history of concepts: Is the focus on a single national language still feasible in the age of globalization? How can the plurality of actors and their agency (Eigensinn) be understood conceptually? As a method, does the history of basic concepts remain bound to the epoch for which it was originally conceived?

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