Thinking the new after the fall of the Berlin Wall: Juri Lotman’s dialogism of history

This paper reads semiotician Juri Lotman’s later works (1985–1993) against the background of the debates on historicity and temporality that were triggered in the West by the fall of the Berlin Wall, from Francis Fukuyama’s ‘end of history’ to François Hartog’s ‘presentism’. The collapse of the USSR provoked a shift of attention in Lotman’s work from signs and texts to historical processes that he rethinks from the point of view of change and novelty, paying particular attention to the place of human freedom and choice in unpredictable historical circumstances. This gives me a new perspective from which to readdress a series of shortcomings in the post–Cold War Western debates on historical time.