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Cambridge Centre for Political Thought


Stefan-Ludwig Hoffmann: A Rift in Time. Koselleck’s Search for a Theory of History – A Book Roundtable

Nihon Room, Pembroke College

3 May, 5pm

History unfolds in time. But how? As progress, in an upward trajectory? Or as a cycle, with similar patterns and temporal rhythms forever reoccurring? In a departure from these long- established historical models, the German historian and theorist Reinhart Koselleck suggested a different possibility. It is not history that repeats itself but the conditions of possible histories. Only when we know what repeats can we recognize what is new and surprising: a rift in time.

Throughout his work, Koselleck sketched out the ever-evolving contours of his theory of history in response to catastrophic experiences of time in the twentieth century. Based on a wealth of previously unaccessed archival materials, Stefan-Ludwig Hoffmann reconstructs Koselleck’s intellectual biography and parses out his search for a theory of history, his Historik.

Stefan-Ludwig Hoffmann is an Associate Professor of Late Modern European History at the University of California, Berkeley.


  • Richard Bourke (King’s College, University of Cambridge),
  • Chris Clark (St Catharine’s College, University of Cambridge),
  • Marcus Colla (Pembroke College, University of Cambridge),
  • Charlotte Johann (Churchill College, University of Cambridge)
  • Emma Mackinnon (Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge)


  • Stefan-Ludwig Hoffmann (UC Berkeley).

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