Hachgenei, Narratologie und Geschichte. Eine Analyse schottischer Historiografie am Beispiel des »Scotichronicon« und des »Bruce«
Annotation author: Wiedmaier, Helen
Book author: Hachgenei, Davina

Davina Hachgenei, Narratologie und Geschichte. Eine Analyse schottischer Historiografie am Beispiel des »Scotichronicon« und des »Bruce«, Bielefeld 2020

The analysis of modes of narration is not a new approach in historical research. Surprisingly however, there are not many books that connect the methodical background of narratology with practical examples, and even less use medieval sources. Hachgenei’s book “Narratologie und Geschichte” fills this research gap. It implements such a narratological method for the analysis of the two Late Medieval Scottish sources “Scotichronicon” and the “Bruce”. To achieve this, Hachgenei’s book is divided into three different sections: theoretical premises, methodological considerations, and finally the application of those thoughts to the sources.

As an introduction, Hachgenei discusses the existing research gap as well as already established narratological tools. The introduction is followed by the key premise to establish an exact and distinctive notion of the fundamental terms of research. Consequently, Hachgenei develops her own set of definitions, focusing particularly on “Erzählung” (‘narration’) and “Sprache” (‘language’). Hachgenei points out that the function of stories is to create a meaning. While this is true for narrations in general, it is especially important for historiography.

These theoretical premises are complemented by an elaborate methodological chapter which describes a text as an offer of communication between author and reader. Moreover, Hachgenei combines and merges aspects of Luhmann’s systems theory with her own aforementioned considerations. In particular, she criticizes the two-dimensional model of communication (“Sender-Empfänger-Metapher”) as over simplifying: she rightly considers the possibility that an author’s message might be rejected or misunderstood by readers. Therefore, the messages are not necessarily perceived as intended. Hachgenei therefore extends this model of communication by regarding the text itself as an important element. A text cannot be understood as the message itself, instead it must be understood as a transmission medium the reader first has to decode. Specific knowledge is required to open this communication channel and establish a successful communication.

After this presentation of the methodological and theoretical backgrounds along with tools for analysis, the second half of the book is devoted to examining the two selected sources within the previously established framework. Hachgenei analyzes macro- and microstructures of the sources in order to gain new insights and extract valuable new information. As an example, an analysis of macrostructures allows her to determine specific recipients of specific narrations in the sources. Thus, she expands on preexisting knowledge about Late Medieval Scotland and questions previous findings.

In conclusion, she points out that the “Scotichronicon” and the “Bruce” are not reliable sources when it comes to reconstructing historical events but are inevitable to access the contemporary conceptual world of Medieval Scotland.

To sum up, this book is highly recommendable for historians using the concepts of narratology. Hachgenei successfully combines her theoretical premises and methodological considerations with their practical use in form of a specific case-study. This demonstrates the effectiveness of her approach. Moreover, this concept can be seen as a mediator in the debate about fictionality in historiography, since Hachgenei recognizes the importance of the text in itself and its function of transmitting messages. This helpful book lacks only an index in order to quickly find relevant passages or concepts.