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Pavel Baloun, Jan Gruber, Jan Mareš, Vít Strobach On Teaching History Under Capitalism and On Talking Heads

It is not the intention of the manifesto to draw across the historical community sharp, bi-polar, or generational lines of conflict. What we intend is to evaluate, based on a clearly presented normative position, some contemporary, readily observable but often overlooked trends pertaining to changes in the teaching of history at Czech universities and in the role of historians in the public space. We are convinced that the two phenomena are interconnected and that the changes we openly or implicitly advocate should apply to both areas at the same time.

Vít Strobach The Historian as the Bearer of Memory: History and Playfulness

The historian as a bearer of memory has always laid claim to truth, but has largely failed to admit its dynamic character. That character can be grasped only within history, not outside it. The ‘modern’ historian decided to solve that problem, by trying to sever history’s ties to myth and art. Both, however, remained profoundly incorporated in its telling. The author considers the way to the objectivity of the telling of history to be the acceptance of the rules of the game as a means of dialogue and the return to art or admitting to the creative character of the telling of history. The closeness to truth should therefore be also determined by the criterion of art, which looks beyond the ‘real nature’ of things to their imposed topicality and fullness. And that is revealed only in the multiplicity of subjective testimony and on the boundary of possible interpretation.

Pavel Baloun, Jan Gruber, Jan Mareš, Vít Strobach Moral Criticism Instead of Discussion

A reply to discussion contributions ZDENĚK R. NEŠPOR, Co chybí české (historické) vědě? Odpověď na „manifest“ čtyř mladých historiků (What is Czech (Historical) Science Lacking? Reply to the ‘Manifesto’ of Four Young Czech Historians), DTK 8/2012, No. 2, p. 297–304; JIŘI HANUŠ, Kritika kritiky neoliberalismu a ahistorických manifestů (A Criticism of a Critique of Neo-Liberalism and Ahistorical Manifestos), DTK 8/2012, No. 1, p. 145–148.

Lukáš Borovička, Vít Strobach How to Deal with (Literary) Anti-Semitism?

In this study, the authors connect the perspective of a social historian with that of a literary one. On one particular example (the works of František Sokol-Tůma), they show the potential of examining not only the inner semantic structure of a text, but also its relations to the more general social, cultural and political contexts. Building upon the basic work of Étienne Balibar, the authors hold that anti-Semitism (and racism in general) has broadly socially manifested itself not in strictly hierarchized, caste-structured societies, but paradoxically in those that claimed at least a formal principle of equality. In other words in such contexts where the discourse of social recognition on the basis of equality among people had asserted or was asserting itself while having to legitimize the obvious sharp social discrepancies. This explains why the notions of race and racism were important to Czech, German and other nationalists during the mobilization and political campaigns, and especially in the last phases of forming national movements, in asserting the sovereignty of a national state and then during its establishment and also destabilization. In Sokol-Tůma’s novel pentalogy V záři milionů (In The Blaze of Millions, 1922), the core threads of the anti-Semitic ideology are woven into a complex semantic net, which loses its ambiguity in the gradually unleashing narrative and becomes clear and understandable, even to the most “simple” reader. It is this orientation towards the “common people” that justifies the claim that the text does not leave any “clusters of ideas” to be “dissolved in a poetical play of reflection” or to be “left open”. Therefore the pentalogy fulfills the criteria of literary anti-Semitism formulated by Mona Körte. From our point of view, however, each such analysis needs to be preceded by a precise and detailed analysis of the semantic structure of a given text and the way such text has been linked to the larger threads of the more general social, cultural and political contexts.