It has been more than 75 years since the end of World War II, but there is still a great interest in the history of the war. Historians and nonfiction writers bring new information to light, analyze events and testimonies from new perspectives, and criticize or defend established narratives. Not least, the war provides material for new interpretations in fiction, film, theatre, and television, as well as in dissemination practices like museums, exhibitions, and memorials. Our project aims at examining these trends as we assume that general conceptions of the events to a large extent are based on aesthetic representations. The ability of art to make people and situations come alive helps to catch the interest in what has happened, link it to our present, and offer both captivating, thought-provoking and contested interpretations. We examine which topics are addressed, how they are scientifically and artistically treated, what discussions they enable, and what function they have on different public arenas (culture, politics, teaching). The central idea is that the past emerges in dynamic negotiations between existing interpretations and new interests and that the war in Norway is created and recreated as a product of changing memories and aesthetics. Therefore, the project emphasizes examining how the war is presented as a complex product of various voices, texts, images, objects, and memories based on conditions and needs in contemporary society.
Cultural memory is a product of representations and performances shaped by circulation, communication and competition between arts and media in the public sphere. To understand the cultural constructions of WWII in contemporary culture, an overarching perspectivism is necessary. This will be achieved through the triangular “post”-approach, as described in WP 1, 2, and 3, as well as by interdisciplinary collaboration.
We assume that aesthetic articulations play a decisive role in the cultural memory constructions of WWII and will make an ambitious attempt to map the various contributions to this topic. An important part of the mapping will be the establishing of a digital bibliography of texts with specific relevance, as described in WP 4.
Scholars with a distinct expertise from different disciplines (literary studies, film studies, theatre studies, TV-studies, museum pedagogics, and memorial studies) will make in-depth analyses and interpretations of their respective material, but first and foremost approach our principal research questions in a collaborative effort. Our publication and dissemination plan will attend to this strong interdisciplinary profile of our project.
Theories developed within the memory studies field will be applied and developed as described in WPs 1, 2, and 3, and supplied by an innovative exhibition, as described in WP 5.