The Chair for „History and Presence of pre-modern Europe“ provides the foundation of history as practiced at the FernUniversität Hagen. It spans a broad historical period from the emergence of written culture in Greek antiquity in the 8th century BC to the democratic-industrial double revolution in the 18th and early 19th century.
“Pre-modern Europe” does not denote a clearly delineated geographical unit but a historical cultural space that is determined by traditional, agrarian-urban societies with segmentary literacy, comprising the Greco-Roman civilization, the Christian Middle Ages and the European state system of the confessional period. Since ancient times, this old European core closely interacted with neighbouring related cultures (Judaism, the Byzantine and Russian-Orthodox East, Islam) but also with ‘foreign’ peoples (e.g. Persians, Carthaginians, Mongols). It was from these myriad cultural encounters that modern Europe emerged. The “presence” of pre-modern Europe refers to the way in which the premodern history of Europe still continues to shape our modern consciousness. By this we mean not (only) objective historical ‘facts’ but also ‘images of the past’ by which modern society remembers its prehistory – either appropriating the pre-modern age as cultural legacy and as tradition, or idealizing it as a lost world, or condemning it as a dark Other.
This broad general perspective is reflected in our teaching; in our research, we cover more specific topics, namely premodern intercultural processes of transfer and perception, religion as the basis of social life and as medium of communication, premodern conceptions of space and order, the social, economic and cultural history of the lower classes, and medieval urban history.