Jörn Rüsen

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Jörn Rüsen (2008)

Jörn Rüsen (born October 19, 1938 in Duisburg ) is a German historian and cultural scientist .


Jörn Rüsen studied history, philosophy, literary studies and education at the University of Cologne . In 1966, Johann Gustav Droysen's doctorate on the theory of history followed . The work was supervised by Günter Rohrmoser and Theodor Schieder . After working as a research assistant at the University of Braunschweig and at the Free University of Berlin , he was appointed professor of modern history in 1974 with a special focus on subject didactics at the Ruhr University in Bochum , where he worked until 1989.

From 1989 to 1997 he was professor of general history with a special focus on historical theory at Bielefeld University . From 1994 to 1997 he was also the managing director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Research (ZiF) at Bielefeld University.

From 1997 to 2007 Rüsen was President of the Institute for Cultural Studies (KWI) in Essen. Since the winter semester 1996/97 he has also held a professorship for general history and historical culture at the University of Witten / Herdecke . Since 2004 he has also been chairman of the board of the “Foundation for Cultural Studies”.

In 2019 Rüsen was elected to the Academia Europaea .

Scientific work

Jörn Rüsen is one of the most influential history theorists of his generation. In addition to research and publication activities on the theory and methodology of historical studies, he also spoke about the history of historical thought and history didactics .

In the 1980s, developed Jörn Rüsen against the background of change of historicism to historical social science with its basic features of a Historic an important contribution to a new foundation of the science of history . Among other things, with the concept of the disciplinary matrix of historical science, Rüsen has succeeded in not only working out individual ideas of historical science, but also in conceptually formulating an inner coherent context and embedding it in a theory of historical science. The disciplinary matrix presents itself as a cycle of five factors: interest in knowledge of the past, ideas that function as guiding criteria for meaning, the methods of empirical research, the forms of representation as well as the actions and orientations that transform the knowledge of historical research into an orientation towards existence integrate.

His concept of historical culture “as a practically effective articulation of historical consciousness in the life of a society” can also help to better understand the relationship between people and their past. According to Rüsen, historical culture has a cognitive (structured according to truth criteria), a political (formed according to power criteria) and an aesthetic (beauty criteria) dimension. These dimensions are complexly intertwined in public history culture, the way society deals with its history, and interpenetrate each other. The investigation of historical meaning formation in the three dimensions mentioned is at the center of Rüsen's research.

In recent years, Rüsen has increasingly published on overarching cultural-scientific topics. Rüsen deals, among other things, with terms such as progress and globalization .

On November 25, 2016, the Department of History - Department for Didactics of the History and History of European Integration at the University of Cologne hosted an honorary colloquium for his golden doctorate.


  • With Martin Klüners: Religion and Meaning. Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, Göttingen 2020, ISBN 978-3-525-45326-1 .
  • History. Theory of History. Böhlau, Cologne, Weimar, Vienna 2013, ISBN 978-3-412-21110-3 .
  • As publisher: Perspektiven der Humanität. Humanity in the discourse of the disciplines. Transcript, Bielefeld 2010, ISBN 978-3-8376-1414-5 .
  • As publisher: Humanism in intercultural perspective. Experiences and expectations. Transcript, Bielefeld 2009, ISBN 978-3-8376-1344-5 .
  • Culture makes sense. Orientation between yesterday and tomorrow. Böhlau, Weimar 2006, ISBN 3-412-29605-8 .
  • As editor: The restlessness of culture. Potentials of the utopian. Velbrück Wissenschaft, Weilerswist 2004, ISBN 3-934730-77-9 .
  • As publisher: Handbuch der Kulturwissenschaften. 2 volumes, Metzler, Stuttgart 2004, ISBN 3-476-01960-8 .
  • As editor: Interpret time. Perspectives - Epochs - Paradigms. Transcript, Bielefeld 2003, ISBN 3-89942-149-3 .
  • Can yesterday get better? Essays Concerning History. Kadmos Kulturverlag, Berlin 2002, ISBN 3-931659-44-5 .
  • History in the cultural process. Böhlau, Cologne 2002, ISBN 3-412-06002-X .
  • Breaking time. About the meaning of the story. Böhlau, Cologne 2001, ISBN 3-412-13000-1 .
  • With Saul Friedländer : Richard Wagner in the Third Reich. A Schloss Elmau symposium. Beck, Munich 2000, ISBN 3-406-42156-3 .
  • As publisher (with Klaus E. Müller ): Historical formation of meaning. Problems, time concepts, perceptual horizons, presentation strategies. rowohlts encyclopedia, Reinbek 1977, ISBN 3-499-55584-0 .
  • Historical orientation. About the work of the historical consciousness to find one's way in time. Böhlau, Cologne 1994, ISBN 3-412-09492-7 .
  • Historical learning. Fundamentals and Paradigms. Böhlau, Cologne a. a. 1994, ISBN 3-412-13393-0 .
  • What is history culture? In: Klaus Füßmann (ed.): Historical fascination. History culture today. Böhlau, Cologne 1994, pp. 3-26.
  • Configurations of Historicism. Studies on German scientific culture. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt a. M. 1993, ISBN 3-518-28682-X .
  • Time and meaning. Strategies of Historical Thought. Fischer TB, Frankfurt 1990, ISBN 3-596-27435-4 . New edition: Verlag Humanities Online, Frankfurt am Main 2012, ISBN 978-3-941743-21-2 .
  • With Friedrich Jaeger: History of Historicism. An introduction. CH Beck, Munich 1992, ISBN 3-406-36081-5 .
  • Basics of a history . 3 volumes:
    1. Historical reason. The basics of history. Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, Göttingen 1983, ISBN 3-525-33482-6 .
    2. Reconstruction of the past. Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, Göttingen 1986, ISBN 3-525-33517-2 .
    3. Living story. Forms and functions of historical knowledge. Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, Göttingen 1989, ISBN 3-525-33554-7 .
  • The structural change in the science of history and the task of history. In: Alwin Diemer (ed.): The structure of scientific revolutions and the history of the sciences . Symposium of the Society for the History of Science on the occasion of its tenth anniversary 8. – 10. May 1975 in Münster. Hain, Meisenheim 1977, pp. 110-119.
  • Conceived history. Genesis and foundation of JG Droysen's theory of history. Schöningh, Paderborn 1969 (dissertation, 1966).


  • Horst Walter Blanke (ed.): Dimensions of history. History theory, history of science and history culture today. Jörn Rüsen on his 60th birthday. Böhlau, Cologne 1998. (With list of publications by Jörn Rüsen 1962–1998, p. 427 ff.)

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. What is history culture? In: Klaus Füßmann (ed.): Historical fascination. History culture today. Böhlau, Cologne 1994, pp. 3–26, quotation p. 5. Spanish version, see web links.
  2. Prof. Rüsen . ( Memento from June 12, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) Goethe-Institut Progress - Lectures.
  3. Events University of Cologne Current; Retrieved November 25, 2016.