National Textbook Narratives and Historiography: Presenting a Same That is Never the Same

Nicole Gotling


National textbook narratives are written from particular national perspectives
and goals. Thus, “the same is never (or at least not always) the same” and what
we learn depends on the context of when and where we are learning it. When it
comes to major conflicts between nations or states, how one handles the telling of
the same conflict event can be especially poignant. Starting from the writing of
national events, this text looks back to another large-scale (inter-)national conflict,
the Prussian Wars (1864-1871), to discuss how the four different developing nationstates
of Germany (via Prussia), Denmark, Austria, and France elaborated unique
historical narrative trajectories (from the 1860s to 1910s) for their own national
curricula and future citizens. From the findings, which discuss the ways these
developing nation-states represented their national ideals, identity, and goals in
their national Prussian War narratives in textbooks, we then come back to the
present with a better understanding of how to approach current international
events and nation-building processes.
Keywords: historiography; national identity; national narratives; nation-building;
Prussian Wars; textbooks.

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