02 Dec 2021

Epochenschwellen und Epochenzäsuren

Venue: ZfL, Schützenstr. 18, 10117 Berlin, Aufgang B, 3. Etage, Seminarraum
Organized by Nicolas Berg (University of Cologne/DI), Falko Schmieder (ZfL)

Joint workshop of the Leibniz Institute for Jewish History and Culture – Simon Dubnow Leipzig (DI) and the Leibniz Center for Literary and Cultural Studies (ZfL)

In retrospect, modernity seems to be an era that, in itself, fragments into various epochal units and generates new ideas about what constitutes an epoch. The turn towards the 18th century saw the emergence of a new experience: the experience to be part of a time of transition and thresholds of something new—an experience which has been re-articulated ever since. Following the Breslau-born German Israeli historian Richard Koebner (1885–1958), the history of modern self-determination may be reconstructed as a succession of experiences of temporal turns that all have their own historical profile and imprint.

In the light of crisis, our present is once more understood as the beginning of a new age or as a time of transformation. Given new problems and challenges, this barely comes as a surprise. What may be noticed here, however, is the fact that the topoi of such descriptions have a history themselves, that they never describe the present alone, but that they simultaneously refer to the beginning of modernity. Such historical experiences of difference and discontinuity, experiences which are constantly articulated anew, and the periodizations associated with them pose numerous theoretical and methodical questions that the workshop will address.

The six lectures that form the yearly exchange between the Dubnow institute and the ZfL, an exchange established since 2017, focus on theoretical and methodical questions concerning own research and projects as well as the contemporaries’ notion of experience which seems especially suitable to discuss the variants, syncopes, and differences between the general development of history and the Jewish perspective on time. Thus, the workshop expands the view on the general relation between epoch-making events and the respective concepts with which historians attempt to depict the beginning, turning point, and conclusion of a historical temporal formation.

The lectures introduce topics between the late 18th and the early 20th century. They ask for the inner unity and specific signature of an epoch; for the social or purely ideal foundation figures for epochal outlines; for synchronous and diachronical competitions between various terminologies; for the retrospective overwriting of epochal designs; and, not least, for the metaphors of various historical time periods (from the epochal threshold to the epochal turn and the epochal breaks).

This is an internal event organized by Nicolas Berg,, and Falko Schmieder,




  • Nicolas Berg (University of Cologne/DI) / Falko Schmieder (ZfL): Introduction and moderation

Medien und Geschichtsschreibung


  • Moritz Neuffer (ZfL): “auf gleicher Höhe mit ihrer Zeit” – Epochenmedium Zeitschrift
  • Theresa Eisele (University of Vienna): “ein Blatt Papier gegen einen Orkan.” Zeitwenden der Wiener Moderne als historische Erfahrung und historiografische Kategorie

Zwischen den Zeiten


  • Detlev Schöttker (ZfL): Mobilmachung und Fortschrittsglaube. Walter Benjamin adaptiert Ernst Jünger
  • Philipp Graf (DI): “Die Politik hat sich geändert und ich stehe jetzt als jüdischer Nationalist da.” Leo Zuckermann und das Ende der “Zwischenzeit”

Epochenbegriffe und -signaturen


  • Barbara Picht (ZfL): Epochendenken im Warburg-Kreis
  • Tom Navon (DI): “On the crossroad between barbarism and progress”: Otto Heller’s ‘Der Jude wird verbrannt’