Sediments of Time
On Possible Histories
Reinhart Koselleck, Translated and Edited by Sean Franzel and Stefan-Ludwig Hoffmann


Contents and Abstracts
1 Sediments of Time
chapter abstract

This chapter addresses Koselleck's theory of sediments of time, or Zeitschichten.

2 Fiction and Historical Reality
chapter abstract

This chapter compares the competing and overlapping claims to historical truth of fiction and historical writing.

3 Space and History
chapter abstract

This chapter addresses the role of concepts of space in history writing, as well as changes in conceptions of space and history in modernity.

4 Historik and Hermeneutics
chapter abstract

This chapter represents Koselleck's encounter with philosophical hermeneutics and the thought of Hans-Georg Gadamer and Martin Heidegger. Koselleck distinguishes the task of the historian from that of the hermeneutician, describing convergences as well as divergences between the theory of history and general hermeneutics.

5 Goethe's Untimely History
chapter abstract

This essay sketches Goethe's vision of history and his position as an untimely theorist of history at a time in which the philosophy of history came to prominence.

6 Does History Accelerate?
chapter abstract

This chapter addresses modernity as a period characterized by acceleration.

7 Constancy and Change of All Contemporary Histories
chapter abstract

This chapter is a critique of the notion of histories of the present, or contemporary histories.

8 History, Law, and Justice
chapter abstract

This chapter represents Koselleck's encounter with legal history and the relationship of the history of the law to a general theory of history. It also addresses the extent to which notions of justice are part of any/all history writing.

9 Linguistic Change and the History of Events
chapter abstract

This chapter addresses the parallels between language and events in history writing.

10 Structures of Repetition in Language and History
chapter abstract

This chapter lays out Koselleck's theory of historical repetition and change, suggesting a general schema for analyzing historical repetition and change across time.

11 On the Meaning and Absurdity in History
chapter abstract

This chapter addresses the limits of historical meaning and models of historical meaningfulness, including that of the absurdity or meaninglessness of history.

12 Concepts of the Enemy
chapter abstract

This chapter offers a conceptual history of ideas of the other qua enemy.

13 Sluices of Memory and Sediments of Experiences
chapter abstract

This chapter lays out a theory of historical experience and history writing, arguing that different experiences of the same events lead to a plurality of histories and historical perspectives about these events. Koselleck uses the example of World War II.

14 Behind the Deadly Line: The Age of Totality
chapter abstract

This chapter asks whether modernity and the twentieth century in particular might be considered as an age of totality.

15 Some Forms and Traditions of Negative Memory
chapter abstract

This chapter addresses concepts of negative memory, and argues against a notion of collective memory, citing World War II and the Holocaust.

16 Histories in the Plural and the Theory of History. An Interview with Carsten Dutt
chapter abstract

In this interview Koselleck surveys his career and expands upon his theory of history.