Dirk van Laak

  • Competitors of truth - literature and history
  • Lecture

We usually encounter the past in the form of a narrative. Facts and data alone do not create a memory, and the understanding of history also remains limited. Every interpretation of tradition strives for a narrative structure, a moral and a judgment. But how do novels differ from history textbooks?

Dirk van Laak traces the common origins of fictional literature and historiography and finds that, from antiquity to the present day, there have always been attempts to go separate ways. Nevertheless, both types and ways of relating to the past have remained intertwined. Facts and fictions also share their forms of representation.

Dirk van Laak is Professor of Contemporary History at Justus Liebig University Giessen and the author of numerous publications on modern and contemporary history. His work focuses on German, European and globalization history, the historical analysis of technology, planning and infrastructure, intellectual history and the history of historiography.

In the series History Telling

Foto: Christiane Gundlach

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