Prof. Dr. Bernhard Jussen

Visiting Scholar

Prof. Dr. Bernhard Jussen has been Professor of "Medieval History and its Perspectives in the Present" at the Goethe University Frankfurt since 2009. He had previously been a professor in Bielefeld since 2001. Jussen studied history, philosophy and Catholic theology in Munich and Münster. After completing his doctorate with a thesis in the field of Historical Anthropology on early medieval kinship practices ("Spiritual Kinship as Social Practice. Godparenthood and Adoption in the Early Middle Ages") he worked at the Max Planck Institute for History in Göttingen. Here he habilitated in 1999 with a thesis in the field of Historical Semantics ("Die Witwe denken. Zur Semantik der mittelalterlichen Bußkultur").

Prof. Jussen was a Research Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin and at the Art History Department of Havard University. In 2007 he was awarded the Leibniz Prize of the German Research Foundation. Since 2016 he has been a member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, where he heads the Medieval Studies Center. 

Post Roman Europe beyond Texts. Conceiving European History after Euro-Centrism

Neither scholarship nor politics doubt that we are experiencing the fundamental reorganization of the world that has been established since the beginning of European expansion in the 16th century. The current work on new post-Eurocentric (or post-Western) patterns of interpretation is the classic case of a paradigm shift. Historical sciences are affected by this in their foundations. The firmly institutionalized model of interpretation "Antiquity - Middle Ages - Modern Times" (after all, a child of the so-called secularization paradigm) is the classic example of a Eurocentric corset.

This macro model, which is still omnipresent today, and its many implications reflect the interpretation needs of the 18th century and are based on a very narrow selection of the material left behind from the past, essentially on pragmatic writing and narrative texts.

In order to observe the Eurocentric boundary of my own historical interpretation and to look for alternatives, I made a strict material decision for my macro-historical view of the history of post-Roman Europe (about the 6th to 16th centuries): I only use material that traditionally belongs to the field of Art History. If the call for a visual turn is meant seriously, then visual material must become part of what constitutes (not only enriches, condenses, or authenticates) macro-historical interpretations. I try to observe what changes as soon as cultural scientists develop their interpretations of the political or religious history of Latin Europe exclusively from the investigation of aesthetic discourses.

The book begins with the study of a 6th century grave in the Roman catacombs and ends with a probably rather boring commission for a religious painting, that Hans Holbein the Younger executed during his time in London.


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