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GERMAN HISTORICAL INSTITUTE WASHNGTON, D.C. ANNUAL LECTURE SERIES No. 8 - page 44 / 46

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the modern era and its various notions of the Middle Ages, has played a central role in the piloting of scientific approaches in all the humanities since the nineteenth century, and it continues to do so today. The discourse about the medieval and the modern expresses itself in standardized forms of thought and contrasting concepts; for instance, individual and type, society and community, status and contract. The various Germanic theories are also included in this discussion and, as Geary has demonstrated, the medievalist versions of the New Frontier thesis as well.

It is also important to devote our energy to a critical examination of the thought processes and formation of ideas because, as it seems to me, it is precisely this deeper area of historical imagination that invites comparative and discerning observations. On the one hand, it entices us and leads us to recognize national models and patterns of historical interpretation from an interdisciplinary perspective. On the other hand, it invites a comparative understanding of the patterns of nationally defined perceptions and interpretations of history in different countries.

IV

Certainly, there were also innovations in medieval scholarship in Germany after World War I. There were new approaches, there was the desire to grasp the history of the Middle Ages better than ever before, or, in other words, as European history. This particularly applies to the largely neglected late work and medieval scholarship of Otto Hintze, formerly a historian of Prussia and the Hohenzollern. Hintze drew the same conclusions from the catastrophe of World War I as did Marc Bloch, who was his junior by an entire generation. Like Bloch, Hintze also recognized the need for a comparative European social history. Published around 1930, his treatises on, among other things,

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