Mentality history

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History of mentalities is the attempt by historians to define mentalities , i. H. to present and explain the attitudes, thoughts and feelings of the people of an era.

The history of mentality emerged in connection with the Annales School , even if Johan Huizinga's Autumn of the Middle Ages is considered to be a pioneering work of this historical approach.

The subject areas of the history of mentality are very diverse and include sexuality and love, death and celebrations, literacy and especially the attitude of broad sections of the population to major historical events, such as the First World War . In Germany, the history of mentality does not have a great tradition; it has not yet had an important representative at universities.

In Philippe Ariès' essay The History of Mentalities , the German sociologist Norbert Elias is described as a “loner whose trains of thought and insights have had a great effect” on the “idea of ​​mentalities”.

In France, these include, in addition to the aforementioned Philippe Ariès, Robert Mandrou , Georges Duby , Jacques Le Goff and Fernand Braudel within the Annales School, Daniel Roche and Roger Chartier . The founders of the Annales School, Lucien Febvre and Marc Bloch , also undertook studies in this direction. It also has connections to the Anglo-Saxon current of the New Cultural History .

Sources and Methods

One learns very little about mentalities from the usual sources , which is why the development of new types of sources is typical for the history of mentalities. Philippe Ariès, for example, processed not only letters and diary entries for L'enfant et la vie familiale sous l'ancien régime (The Child and Family Life in Absolutism), but also portraits to analyze children's fashion and old toys.

The methods of research into the history of mentality range from micro-historical studies of individual regions, cities, social classes or families to the analysis of the experience of space and time, rituals and table manners or physicality based on images to the analysis of ideas about and dealing with happiness, Love, suffering and death based on private and public manuscripts, grave inscriptions or photos. Subjective sources are particularly important for the analysis, but conclusions can also be drawn about prevailing or special (e.g. class or job-specific) mentalities from the handling of artefacts such as buildings, works of art, tools and everyday utensils or with animals.

See also


  • Peter Burke : Strengths and Weaknesses in the History of Mentalities. In: Peter Burke: Varieties of Cultural History. Polity Press, Cambridge et al. 1997, ISBN 0-7456-1698-4 , pp. 162-182.
  • Roger Chartier : Cultural History. Between practices and representations. Polity Press, Cambridge et al. 1988, ISBN 0-7456-0422-6 .
  • Peter Dinzelbacher (Ed.): European Mentality History. Main themes in individual representations (= Kröner's pocket edition . Volume 469). 2nd, revised and supplemented edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 2008, ISBN 978-3-520-46902-1 .
  • Laurent Martin, Sylvain Venayre (eds.): L'histoire culturelle du contemporain. Actes du colloque de Cerisy. Nouveau Monde, Paris 2005, ISBN 2-84736-105-7 .
  • Pascal Ory : L'histoire culturelle. (= Que sais-je? 3713). 2nd edition. PUF, Paris 2007, ISBN 978-2-13-055965-8 .
  • Philippe Poirrier Les enjeux de l'histoire culturelle (= Points. Histoire. 342). Éditions du Seuil, Paris 2004, ISBN 2-02-049245-8 .
  • Ulrich Raulff (ed.): Mentalities history. For the historical reconstruction of intellectual processes (= Wagenbach's pocket library. Vol. 152). Wagenbach, Berlin 1987, ISBN 3-8031-2152-3 .
  • Jean-Pierre Rioux, Jean François Sirinelli (Eds.) Pour une histoire culturelle. Éditions du Seuil, Paris 1997, ISBN 2-02-025470-0 .
  • Hasso Spode : What is mentality history? In: Heinz Hahn (Ed.): Culture differences. Interdisciplinary concepts on collective identities and mentalities (= contributions to the social-scientific analysis of intercultural relationships. Vol. 3). IKO - Verlag für Interkulturelle Kommunikation, Frankfurt am Main 1999, ISBN 3-88939-477-9 , pp. 10–57 .
  • Sabine Tanz : On the meaning of the history of mentality. Balance sheet and outlook. In: Michael Borgolte (Hrsg.): Medieval research after the turn of 1989 (= historical magazine . Supplements. NF 20). Oldenbourg, Munich 1995, ISBN 3-486-64420-3 , pp. 227-238.

Web links


  1. ^ Philippe Ariès: The history of mentalities. In: Jacques LeGoff, Roger Chartier, Jacques Revel (eds.): The reconquest of historical thought. Foundations of the New History (= Fischer. 12033). Fischer-Taschenbuch-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1994, ISBN 3-596-12033-0 , pp. 138-165 f.
  2. ^ Philippe Poirrier: L'histoire culturelle en France , pdf
  3. ^ Robert Darnton : The Great Cat Massacre and Other Episodes in French Cultural History. Vintage Books, New York NY 1985, ISBN 0-394-72927-7 .