What is politics? Where and how is politics made? What does it mean for something to be political rather than non- or unpolitical? As a historical perspective on these questions shows, such questions do not have a universal answer. In every time period, various and conflicting definitions of politics and the political are formulated, articulating diverse and ever changing perspectives on the political realm.
The department 'History of the Political' focuses on the historical analysis of the political in modern Europe. Its research is concerned with the reconstruction of concepts, discourses and modes of speech within (as well as about) the political sphere and with the question how political languages and concepts changed in the context of the multifarious and wide-ranging social developments they helped to shape. Tracing processes of semantical change, a new perspective upon the political emerges, understanding it to be a contested and continually changing space of social conflict.
Our teaching comprises general survey courses on German and Western European history from the 18th to the 20th century as well as thematic courses on diverse topics connected to the staff's research projects and interests.