The Rationale(s) of Historiography

On December 13-14, the Centre for Philosophical Studies of History will organize the workshop/PhD-course “The Rationale(s) of Historiography”. We welcome anybody who wants to join us in Oulu, and the workshop will also be livestreamed (more on this to follow soon). Please find more information below and in the linked syllabus.

Event information



Venue location

TM113 / TH107 and Zoom (passcode: 247380)

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Instructors: Britta Hochkirchen (University of Jena), Wulf Kansteiner (Aarhus University), Jouni-Matti Kuukkanen (University of Oulu); Zoltán Boldizsár Simon (Bielefeld University)

Course dates and lecture halls: 13.-14.12, 9h-17h. On 13.12, the course will take place in TM113, on 14.12 in TH107

Contact: Georg Gangl (

Course Description

In recent years, it has become more and more clear that the texts that historians and other historical scientists produce do not only give us factual knowledge of the past but that they often also convey specific subjective points of view and argue for political and moral positions while accounting for change over time. Plus, they are often narrative in form, meaning they have distinct literary qualities as well. In other words, historiographic texts are complex wholes containing (at least) descriptive, argumentative, and narrative elements. These building blocks of historiographic texts and their composition have not been researched yet in any detail; at the same time, they pose the question, what is the point of historiography? Why do we research and write accounts of the past? This is the question of the rationale(s) of historiography.

“The Rationale(s) of Historiography” is a hands-on workshop/course aimed at PhD-students and interested scholars. The idea of the workshop/course is to discuss the different positions on the rationale(s) of historiography, confront them with actual historiographic texts, and to see how they fare. Texts will therefore be closely read and “dissected” layer by layer in a strongly discursive and interactive setting, paying close attention to how individual statements and paragraphs are backed up by evidence or otherwise argued for.

The idea is to create an innovative “laboratory environment” for scrutinizing different historiographic texts. For this purpose, we will on the first day discuss different theoretical and philosophical texts concerning the rationale(s) of historiography—namely argumentative, aesthetic, descriptive, ethical, cognitive, and pluralist positions on this question. Each of these positions will be shortly introduced by one of the lecturers before there will be free-form discussion based on a text assigned for the session. The second day will be used for the analysis of actual historiographic texts against the background of the theoretical positions on the rationale(s) of historiography discussed the day before.

For the whole course syllabus, please see here.

Last updated: 7.12.2023