Reminder: European TV Memories – Call for papers

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Reminder: deadline is September 6th, 2012


Journal of European Television History and Culture

Vol. 2, Issue 3: ‘European TV Memories’

The Journal of European Television History and Culture ( welcomes paper proposals for its third issue dedicated to ‘European TV Memories’ and guest-edited by Jérôme Bourdon (Tel Aviv University) and Berber Hagedoorn (Utrecht University).

The journal is the first peer-reviewed multi-media e-journal in the field of television studies. Offering an international platform for outstanding academic research on television, the journal has an interdisciplinary profile and acts both as a platform for critical reflection on the cultural, social and political role of television in Europe’s past and present as well as a multi-media platform for the circulation and use of digitized audiovisual material.

The journal’s main aim is to function as a showcase for a creative and innovative use of digitized television material in scholarly work, and to inspire a fruitful discussion between audiovisual heritage institutions (especially television archives) and a broader community of television experts and amateurs. In offering a unique technical infrastructure for a multi-media presentation of critical reflections on European television, the journal aims at stimulating innovative narrative forms of online storytelling, making use of the digitized audiovisual collections of television archives around Europe.

The theme of third issue of the journal, due for publication in April 2013, is European TV Memories. The editors welcome two kinds of contributions:

  • scholarly articles (historical, sociological or anthropological with a European focus) of 4,000 words
  • discoveries: journalistic essays (2,500 words) which include audiovisual sources as a central component andreflect on the practical challenges of doing television research in an archival or academic environment (e.g. case studies, new collections, news from archives, audio/video interviews).

European TV Memories

The phrase “European TV Memories” can be understood in many ways, of which we can suggest three:

  • Memories as remembering: memory as content actually remembered and shared (especially in contexts and events triggered by the researcher (focus groups, life stories).
  • Memories as policy: as the way the institutions of European television have tried to engineer, generate, support, and disseminate specific memories (at least, potentially, collective memories, considering the reach of the medium).
  • Memories as text: as they can be inferred from the close analysis of text as vectors of memory.

Although there is no strict correlation, different disciplines have generally focused on different understandings of memory. “Memory as text” is frequent among historians and philosophers, “memory as remembering” is analyzed by social psychologists and sociologists, while “memory as institution” is connected to a more political perspective (political sciences, but history as well).

We invite contributions across disciplines and across different conceptions of memories. Similarly, we would appreciate contributions, which study television memories beyond the genres usually emphasized in the study of memory (news and current affairs and historical programmes). TV series, advertisements, entertainment, can be considered as well.

Finally, three aspects cannot always be limited strictly to the medium of television, which interact with other medium, either “old” or “new”. The memories of news events, for a given viewer/citizen, cannot be isolated from a news culture, which includes the press, once the newsreels, today online news. The memory of cinema is built, to a large extent, through television. This is why we will invite contributors to include other media, especially new and digital media, in their analysis, although the focus should be on television.

Proposals are invited on (but not limited to) the following suggested topics:

Television as an institution of memory

  • the policies of memory in and on television
  • event memories: public/private memories of televised media events
  • commemorations and anniversaries
  • reruns and repetition
  • nostalgia programming and TV memorabilia

Preservation and erasure

  • the impact and challenges of accessing TV history and memory in the digital age, considering a.o.: online access and storage, copyright issues, open source archiving, digital contextualization, user generated data
  • the TV user as archivist
  • the future of TV memory

New cultures of remembering and forgetting (via) television

  • the impact and challenges of new and digital technologies
  • new cultures of viewing and user participation, inside the household (wallpaper memories) and outside
  • the gendering of television technologies and experiences
  • transnational TV memories

Researching television memories

  • the methodological debate: archives, life-stories, political statements

Paper proposals (500 words) are due on September 6th, 2012. Submissions should be sent to the managing editor of the journal, dr. Dana Mustata ( Articles (2-4,000 words) will be due on December 15th, 2012.Please consult the journal’s Author Guidelines. For further information or questions about this issue, please contact Jérôme Bourdon and Berber Hagedoorn.

IAMHIST 2011 Conference Report

The 24th International conference on History and Media took place this year in Copenhagen on 6th-9th July. EUscreen was represented by Dr. Sian Barber from Royal Holloway and Berber Hagedoorn from Utrecht University, both of whom delivered papers in the same panel at the conference. The theme of the conference was Media History and Cultural Memory and some of the papers given over the course of this four day event were particularly relevant to EUscreen.

IAMHIST report by Dr. Sian Barber & Berber Hagedoorn, MA.

The roundtable discussion which began the conference included representatives from the Imperial War Museum in London, the Holocaust Museum in Washington and the Danish Film Institute. Thomas Christensen from the Danish Film Institute discussed their current programme of digitisation and how their data is to be aggregated with Europeana. He highlighted the challenges of digitisation and the impact such processes have upon the original collections, for example the tensions between the contextualisation of content and the need for preservation. He also referred in passing to projects including EUscreen and the European Film Gateway as conducting similar kind of work.

Raye Farr from theHolocaust museum in Washington spoke about the way in which visitors engage with the museum collections and suggested the complexities for both live museums and online museum environments in meeting visitor and user needs. This is particularly relevant to the development of the Comparative Virtual Exhibitions within EUscreen, which will offer a unique user experience but will need to offer a coherent and simple narrative while at the same time addressing the diversity of material involved. She suggested that the role of museums is to preserve memory but wondered to what extent that could happen online and how the contested issues and boundaries of memory could be adequately addressed.

One of the most interesting papers was the presentation given about the Danish LARM Audio Research Archive. Bente Larsen from the University of Copenhagen is the project manger for this ambitious project which aims to place 1 million hours of Danish radio material online, covering 114 years of audio recording. This newly created digital archive faces many of the same issues as EUscreen – including issues of copyright, streaming and of providing access to cultural heritage. LARM aims to create a user-focused infrastructure which will benefit students and researchers and provide access to this material, but as yet it can only be accessed by users from within Denmark.

In the same panel, Heidi Svømmekjær (Roskilde University) was also discussing radio and in particular the problems and possibilities for re-entering the absent ‘object’ in the (digital) archive. Her case study was The Hansen Family, a programme that was broadcast from 1929 to 1949, of which 2-3 episodes out of 900 episodes remain. Svømmekjær notably drew upon the work of Antoinette M. Burton, Archive stories: facts, fictions, and the writing of history to address the methodological challenges of dealing with missing radio recordings and how the missing object could be reinstalled within the archive when only the basic metadata remains.

The history project based on the British broadcasting trade union BECTU was the focus of the paper given by Andrew Dawson (University of Greenwich). This paper focused on some important questions about conducting historical projects and the importance of oral history. Dawson highlighted the importance of drawing on a range of material to explore the work of the film industry, rather than simply focusing on the recollections of a number of important individuals. He suggested that listening to authoritative and dominant voices can obscure the more detailed history which can emerge from a wider sample. Dawson also wondered about European broadcasters and if different organisations were conducting similar projects about their own film and television industries which draw on oral history.

From EUscreen partner Utrecht University, Berber Hagedoorn presented on Dutch Multi-Platform Television as a Practice of History and Memory. By means of a case analysis of two Dutch cross-media projects, the documentary series In Europa (In Europe) and the youth documentary series 13 in de Oorlog (13 in the War), Hagedoorn discussed the integration and adaptation of television’s past and audiovisual archive materials in a new context of television itself. This challenges the dominant conception that television is a disposable practice incapable of memory. Hagedoorn’s research deals with archival materials from the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision.

Sian Barber, (Royal Holloway, University of London) presented on the methodological challenges posed by the EUscreen project. In a paper entitled Whose Archive, Whose History? Barber suggested that any online visual material needs to be adequately contextualized in order to give the most detailed understanding possible to end users. Barber emphasized the need for a ‘digital historiography’ to help users, in particular students, develop skills in ‘reading’ online material as historical sources. Portals such as EUscreen offer a great deal of material to the users but unless they interrogate the material carefully and fully understand what kind of material it is, then it will be of limited use to them. Barber outlined what the EUscreen project was doing to contextualise material on the portal and how this was achieved through the content selection strategy, virtual exhibitions and detailed metadata.

This four day event was a great opportunity to disseminate information about the EUscreen project and to hear about other projects which have interesting convergences with our own work.

1914-18 archive alliance signed

Press release by Europeana

The German National Library, Oxford University and Europeana have signed an agreement to digitise family papers and memorabilia from the First World War in order to create an online archive about the people involved in the conflict.

Oxford University began the initiative when it asked people across Britain to bring family letters, photographs and keepsakes from the War to be digitised. The success of the idea – which became the Great War Archive – has encouraged Europeana, Europe’s digital archive, library and museum, to bring the German National Library into an alliance with Oxford University to roll out the scheme in Germany. The collaboration will bring German soldiers’ stories online alongside their British counterparts in a 1914-18 archive.

There will be a series of roadshows in libraries around Germany that will invite people to bring documents and artefacts from family members involved in the First World War to be digitised by mobile scanning units, and to tell the stories that go with them. There will also be a website allowing people to submit material online if they are unable to attend the local events. Everything submitted will also be available through Europeana, where it add a new perspective to collections of First World War material from institutions across Europe.

Dr Elisabeth Niggemann, the German National Librarian, said, “We are proud to be part of this alliance. These artefacts and their stories have survived and we must record them while they are still part of family memory. Little of this material will ever have been on public display, or been made available to historians. What the 1914-18 War demonstrates, especially at the personal level, is the futility of war, and the pity of it for the men and their families.”

Stuart Lee, an Oxford University academic and Director of the Great War Archive said, “Working together with the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek and their partners in Germany to extend this initiative will give it new resonance. The Centenary in 2014 of the first year of the war will prompt many people to discover more about it and find out about family members involved. The 1914-18 archive will bring them close to those who witnessed it at first hand, showing the souvenirs that they kept throughout their lives and telling the stories that they handed down the generations.”

“One such story that was submitted to the Great War Archive during the British project exemplifies what we want to do. It concerns RAF man Bernard Darley who was commended for putting out a fierce fire in a workshop containing petrol tanks. At his side throughout was a German prisoner of war, Otto Arndt. The two became friends and Otto made a matchbox from a shell-casing as a memento which he inscribed and presented to his friend. This story shows the human side of the war – in this case an unlikely friendship between normal people caught up in a war not of their making.”

Jill Cousins, Executive Director of Europeana, says that the organisation is well placed to bring together such partnerships: “Europeana acts as the facilitator in an extensive cross-European network of libraries, museums and archives. We aim to create partnerships with organisations from other theatres of the First World War, such as Belgium, France and the Eastern Front, so their stories can be included.”

“The 1914-18 online archive will reflect the reality of the lives of the soldiery on different sides of the conflict. As a people’s history it will offer a vivid testimony that school students will find compelling, and we are keen to work with educational organisations to create teaching resources. We are also planning exhibitions and information services that provide a pan-European focus on activities around the 1914-18 centenary.”

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