Accepted Paper:

Current topics in the 18th century  

Author:

Burkhard Pöttler (University of Graz)

Paper short abstract:

To raise students' interest in historical approaches to everyday culture the selection of topics which correspond to current problems is very helpful. Laying stress on differences and similarities in time rather than space helps to expand the ethnological understanding to historical approaches.

Paper long abstract:

To raise students' interest in historical approaches to everyday culture the selection of topics which correspond to current problems has proven to be very helpful. For example, the public discourse on beggars in Graz and the respective legislation is a good entrance to the study of archival material concerning beggars and their prosecution in the 18th century. Similarly, the actual interest in spirituality opens the way to books of miracles as a source for piety and religious believes in that period.

As a prerequisite to an understanding of historical sources there are two aspects which mainly have to be dealt with: On a more practical level there is the necessity to acquire skills in reading old hand writings (in this case especially the "Kurrentschrift"). By many students it is regarded as so dominating that it often becomes a kind of label for the introductory course to historical methods. On the cognitive level questions of methodology and theoretical concepts adopted from history have to be combined with the ethnographically oriented concepts like "fieldwork in the archives" and "historical ethnography". Laying stress on differences and similarities in time rather than in space helps students to apply their knowledge of ethnological concepts to the temporal dimension, thus facilitating historical approaches to everyday culture.

Panel P05
Teaching historical-ethnological approaches to the past