G4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)
Taking the language of the past seriously : the linguistic turns in Finnish and Swedish history dissertations, 1970-2010 (2020)

Partti, K. (2020). Taking the language of the past seriously : the linguistic turns in Finnish and Swedish history dissertations, 1970-2010 [Doctoral dissertation]. Jyväskylän yliopisto. JYU dissertations, 174. http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-39-7991-1

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Partti, Kenneth

eISBN: 978-951-39-7991-1

Journal or series: JYU dissertations

eISSN: 2489-9003

Publication year: 2020

Number in series: 174

Number of pages in the book: 1 verkkoaineisto (183 sivua)

Publisher: Jyväskylän yliopisto

Place of Publication: Jyväskylä

Publication country: Finland

Publication language: English

Persistent website address: http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-39-7991-1

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Open Access channel


The linguistic turn in historical research has shifted the interest of an increasing number of historians into problematizing the nature of past language. In this study the linguistic turn has been divided into five different approaches— conceptual history, linguistic contextualism, discursivity, linguistically constructed gender, and narrativity. This categorization is based on the senior theorists R. Koselleck, Q. Skinner, M. Foucault, J. Scott, and H. White, and the first wave of linguistic turns their works impacted within historical studies. Thus, these linguistic turns have foreign background and they have been gradually imported into Finland and Sweden. It is an interplay between local historical traditions and foreign scholarly adaptions. By analyzing doctoral dissertations of history defended in Sweden and Finland in 1970–2010, and the reviews of them, similarities but also differences are seen between ways to conduct historical research in these countries. Less than 10 percent of the dissertations in both countries included references to linguistic turns: in the Finnish case circa 9% and in the Swedish case 6%. Linguistic turns themselves have become diversified, both in international and national debates. Their impact on Finnish and Swedish historiography has been notable, but not comprehensive. The role and essence of language has been acknowledged more widely and deeply during the last few decades, but the applications of linguistically oriented approaches remain within a limited number of scholars. The pace of adopting and elaborating linguistic turns tells also about the historiography of these countries more widely. In Finland, the discipline of general history (yleinen historia) has a long tradition of being internationally oriented, and the applications of linguistically oriented methods validates this fact. In turn, the discipline of the history of ideas and science (idé- och lärdomshistoria) in Sweden has created links between their methodological starting points and linguistic contextualism or conceptual history. Historians from both countries have contributed to linguistically oriented methods with their local and national applications, but the pace and coverage has been quicker and more extensive in Finland. This reflects openness to international debates in a smaller nation state.

Keywords: history; conceptual history; intellectual history; conception of history; historical research; genre research; linguistics; languages; contextuality; discourse; narrativity; past; doctoral dissertations

Free keywords: historiography; linguistic turn; methodology; reception; Finland and Sweden; comparative history

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2020

Last updated on 2021-07-07 at 21:38