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François Hartog

François Hartog is a French historian and Chair of Modern and Antique Historiography at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS) in Paris. Born in 1946, Hartog attended the 'École normale supérieure. A former student of Jean-Pierre Vernant and assistant to Reinhart Koselleck, Hartog’s early work focused on the intellectual history of ancient Greece and historiography, while his recent work deals mainly with temporality.

His most recent book to be published in English, Regimes of Historicity: Presentism and Experiences of Time (Columbia University Press, 2015, translated by Saskia Brown), engages our “ways of relating to the past, present, and future.” Hartog also tackles the concept of “presentism,” or how we adhere to present-day ideas to attempt to understand the past via interpretations of writing as the “motor of history” and the “contradictory qualities of our contemporary presentist relation to time.”

Hartog’s research frequently attempts to situate the progressions of time and memory against the realities of repetition and methodologies of understanding history from various theoretical reference points. 

His other publications include Mémoire d'Ulysse: récits sur la frontière en Grèce ancienne (Gallimard, 1996), Anciens, modernes, sauvages (Galaade, 2005), and Vidal-Naquet, historien en personne (La Découverte, 2007), as well as countless articles, lectures, and, more recently, a series of podcasts on ancient and modern history. 

Selected Bibliography

-Le Miroir d'Hérodote. Essai sur la représentation de l'autre, Gallimard, 1980.

-Le XIXe siècle et l'histoire. Le cas Fustel de Coulanges, PUF, 1988.

-Les Usages politiques du passé, avec Jacques Revel, EHESS, 2001,

-Régimes d'historicité. Présentisme et expériences du temps, Le Seuil, 2002 (Regimes of Historicity: Presentism and Experiences of Time, Columbia University Press, 2015; translated by Saskia Brown)

-Anciens, modernes, sauvages, Galaade, 2005.

-Évidence de l'histoire. Ce que voient les historiens, EHESS, 2005.

-Vidal-Naquet, historien en personne, La Découverte, 2007.

-Croire en l'histoire, Flammarion, 2013.

-Partir pour la Grèce, Flammarion, 2015.


About Regimes of Historicity: Presentism and Experiences of Time



When we observe the past and present, or speculate about the future, our observations are informed by an immense series of variables that determine our outcomes. Trends in historical methodology are identified by their approaches to understanding the ideas of time and writing as “motors” for history. With this in mind, Hartog analyzes a series of texts, beginning with The Odyssey at the beginning of “historical consciousness” and arriving eventually at recent historical texts by Pierre Nora and the French Annales School to engage the notion of presentism and the experience of time. “Our presentist present is by no means uniform or clear-cut, and it is experienced very differently depending on the position we occupy in society,” which, in other words, means that beyond the standard allowances for relativism, our understanding of history can differ wildly depending on where both the historian and the society itself are situated in their historical space. Furthermore, the future “is no longer reassuring, since it is perceived not as a promise, but as a threat.” (Full review) Hartog uses his readings to reveal contradictions in our present relationship with time and how writing has stalled as a mile-marker for our engagement with history. 


If you would like to invite this author to speak at your university or bookstore, please fill out the application form and email it to Anne-Sophie Hermil at anne-sophie.hermil@diplomatie.gouv.fr