2013 | 3 | European Television Memories

In the context of the fast development of memory studies, the third issue of VIEW: Journal of European Television History and Culture highlights debates around the moving borders of national memories, fostered by television in the context of European history.
The articles in this issue focus on the contribution of European television researchers, covering all three areas of media studies (production, text and reception), and touch upon a broad range of topics including: the reconstruction of the national past after regime changes (in both Southern and Eastern Europe); competing versions of the “same” past; the fragile fostering of a European identity; and the regional/would be national past. The issue emphasizes the different uses (ethnographic, historical) of life-stories of television viewers and hints at the possible changes to memory formation brought about by television in the post-network, digital era. Finally, this issue charts the field of European television memories, but will also suggest ways it can be researched further, both nationally and transnationally.

Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 14 of 14
  • Article
    "It's Just So Hard to Bring It to Mind": The Significance of ‘Wallpaper’ in the Gendering of Television Memory Work
    Collie, Hazel (2013-06-30)
    Memory is theorised as constructive and unreliable, while television has been characterised as forgettable and guilty of undermining memory. In a recent series of oral history interviews I asked British women of different generations to tell me their memories of television in the period 1947 to 1989. This article presents some of their memories to demonstrate how, far from undermining memory, television is used a type of memory text for particular life stages.
  • Article
    Chronology and Ideology: Temporal Structuring in Israeli Historical Documentary Series
    Garami, Bosmat (2013-06-30)
    This paper examines two major Israeli historical documentary television series, Pillar of Fire, produced in the 1970’s, and Revival, produced in the 1990’s. The series deal with the Zionist enterprise and its realization. The research applies Gerard Genette’s central narratological typology to the series’ temporal structures, through the categories of Order, Duration and Frequency. The findings show that while Pillar of Fire’s classic, linear, historicist structure serves its celebration of the Zionist narrative, Revival employs a unique, complex, multi-dimensional structure, which enables its historical multi-vocality, and supports its critical presentation of the cyclical Arab-Israeli Conflict and its revisionism of traditional Israeli history.
  • Article
    Bourdon, Jérôme; Hagedoorn, Berber (2013-06-30)
    The medium television has been accused of being amnesiac or a producer of forgetfulness. However, researchers have discovered the many ways the mass media, including television, transform memories and affect not only the way societies remember, but also the way memories must be studied and conceptualized. Collective memories are often seen as institutionalized memories, which we can analyse through official manifestations such as ceremonies, monuments, or even major television programmes.While the texts presented in this issue do not deal with the theory of collective memory, they will suggest various ways of conceptualizing memories, not at the stable, “hard” level of institutions, museums, monuments, but rather at the level of more dynamic memory practices that take place in the contemporary media landscape as an ongoing, active and performative engagement with the past.
  • Article
    Great Escapes from the Past: Memory and Identity in European Transnational Television News
    Widholm, Andreas (2013-06-30)
    Over the last couple of decades, Europe has undergone fundamental political transformations that have challenged old stereotypes about the ‘essence’ of the European identity. This article analyses televisual narratives of the 2004 enlargement of the European Union, turning the analytical spotlight on two of Europe’s largest news broadcasters: BBC World News and Euronews. The article focuses on how Europe is remembered in the news, but also how references to the past are used to explain what Europe is today and what it might look like in the future.
  • Article
    Looking for What You are Looking for: A Media Researcher’s First Search in a Television Archive
    Gorp, Jasmijn van (2013-06-30)
    In this essay, the author reflects on her first search with the online search system of the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision. This was part of a pilot study on how media researchers use the audiovisual archive. Her search was being logged, video taped and sound recorded, she had to ‘think aloud’, and all of this in the presence of a fellow researcher from computer sciences who observed her search behaviour. By showing how she found some relevant programmes among more than 1.2 million items, this article illustrates how archival finding by media researchers can be understood as archival looking or ‘exploratory search’.
  • Article
    Martin Luther in Primetime: Television Fiction and Cultural Memory Construction in Cold War Germany
    Anderson, Stewart (2013-06-30)
    In 1983, both East and West Germany celebrated Martin Luther’s 500th birthday with great fanfare. Nowhere was this competition more provocative and visually arresting, however, than in two multi-part television plays which depicted Luther’s life: the West German Martin Luther, broadcast by the public station ZDF in April, and the East German title of the same name, aired in October. In this essay, I argue that the East German version constituted an appropriative strategy of memory formation – one that depicted Luther’s positive qualities and grafted them into the Marxist canon of heroes. In contrast, the ZDF Martin Luther, which featured a highly rational Luther, projected what Jan Assmann has termed a normative strategy of harnessing Luther’s memory, focusing on Luther’s intellectual arguments and anti-radicalism.
  • Article
    Memory, Television and the Making of the BBC’s The Story of Wales
    Blandford, Steve; McElroy, Ruth (2013-06-30)
    The production of television history programming is a rich site for examining the dynamic relationship between history and memory. This article approaches these dynamics through original, empirical research of a specific case study, BBC Wales’ The Story of Wales (Green Bay for BBC Wales, 2012). It analyses the commissioning, production and presentation of a landmark national history programme within the specific context of a small nation (Wales) and provides insights into how television intervenes in the construction, revision and remembering of the national past. The role of national histories in the construction of memory and national identity is important at a time when the legitimacy of nations and states is under question and when governmental and political settlements are under construction as is the case in the post-devolutionary United Kingdom.
  • Article
    Parallel Stories, Differentiated Histories: Exploring Fiction and Memory in Spanish and Portuguese Television
    Rueda Laffond, José Carlos; Ruiz, Carlota Coronado; Burnay, Catarina Duff; Gómez, Amparo Guerra; Pérez, Susana Díaz; Santos, Rogério (2013-06-30)
    This study is part of an international project about the characteristics of historical fiction on Spanish and Portuguese television between 2001 and 2012, a time period during which historical content on television enjoyed an important expansion in both countries. The paper follows these productions as entertainment products and memory strategies. It explores a set of key-points: the similarities and differences of historical fiction productions; polarization of different historical times, more specifically, the convergent perspectives on Franco and Salazar as the contemporary Iberian dictators.
  • Article
    Television as a Hybrid Repertoire of Memory: New Dynamic Practices of Cultural Memory in the Multi-Platform Era
    Hagedoorn, Berber (2013-06-30)
    In this article, television is reconsidered as a hybrid ‘repertoire’ of memory. It is demonstrated how new dynamic production and scheduling practices in connection with highly accessible and participatory forms of user engagement offer opportunities for television users to engage with the past, and how such practices affect television as a practice of memory. The media platform Holland Doc is discussed as a principal case study. By adopting and expanding Aleida Assmann’s model of the dynamics of cultural memory between remembering and forgetting, a new model to study television as cultural memory is proposed which represents the medium’s hybridity in the multi-platform era.
  • Article
    The Life and Afterlife of a Socialist Media Friend: On the Longterm Cultural Relevance of the Polish TV Series Czterdziestolatek
    Bloch, Kinga (2013-06-30)
    This paper analyses the cultural relevance of the popular Polish 1970s series Czterdziestolatek (‘The Forty Year Old’). It aspires to reconstruct both public discourses about the episodes produced during socialism and the reception of a new season after the fall of the Iron Curtain. Furthermore, the concept of the mnemonic imagination (Keightley and Pickering) will be applied to memory and nostalgia about the series. The study argues that this Polish ‘media-friend’ (Meyrowitz) went through three overlapping reception-phases: a critical public discourse and extreme popularity among the audience during socialism, the lack of enthusiasm for the post-socialist season and finally the programme’s establishment among historical televisual documents that are perceived as Polish cultural heritage.
  • Article
    The Production of Czechoslovakia´s Most Popular Television Serial The Hospital On The Outskirts and its Post-1989 Repeats
    Bednařík, Petr (2013-06-30)
    During the 1970s and 1980s - the so-called normalisation era in Czechoslovakia - serials were the main staple of Czechoslovak Television (ČST) ‘s schedule. TV serials of the normalisation era had high viewer ratings, and are still present in the memories of the viewers of the time. TV serials are part of the audiences’ personal history. Based on archival research, this article tries to interpret the success of the serial Hospital on the Outskirts, and of its post-1989 repeats. The original version achieved success with a large audience in Czechoslovakia as well as other countries. In 1981, the West German television broadcaster Norddeutscher Rundfunk even co-produced the filming of another seven episodes. After the change of regime in 1989, the serial first made a comeback in the form of repeats. At the beginning of the 21st century, Czech Television (ČT) produced a sequel named Hospital on the Outskirts After Twenty Years. The sequel was introduced in 2003 and its release was accompanied by great anticipation of the audience as well as critics. Czech Television shot more episodes in 2008: Hospital on the Outskirts - New Life Stories.
  • Article
    Why Should We Study Socialist Commercials?
    Imre, Anikó (2013-06-30)
    This article looks at television’s so far neglected contribution as a relay and interpretive framework at the intersection of postsocialist memory and history studies. It zooms in on postsocialist nostalgia as a relational expression of a heterogeneous set of desires that operate in an intercultural network. Televisual nostalgia also implicates Western Europe and makes explicit a Western European longing for the divided Europe of the Cold War. This longing, in turn, shores up Europe’s repressed imperial history. Television’s role at the pressure points of postsocialist institutional and economic policy, consumption and narrative concerns makes it an indispensable window into the intertwined workings of nostalgia and nationalism within a postcolonial Europe.
  • Article
    Window to the West: Memories of Watching Finnish Television in Estonia During the Soviet Period
    Lepp, Annika; Pantti, Mervi (2013-06-30)
    This study is concerned with the memories that Estonians have of watching Finnish television during the last decades of the Soviet occupation. We will look at the practices of watching Finnish television in Soviet Estonia and the meanings attributed to it. Finnish television took North-Estonians into a colourful world of consumption and entertainment, while educating them about Western values and encouraging them to dream of a better future. We identify four ways that North-Estonians remember Finnish television (and its programmes): as an event, as a means of distinction, as a window to a world of affluence, and as a tool of democratic education.
  • Article
    ‘Remembering Our First TV Set’. Personal Memories as a Source for Television Audience History
    Penati, Cecilia (2013-06-30)
    Personal memories represent a crucial source in outlining a history of television audiences. However, they are undoubtedly special historical tools, and their interpretation requires particular cares and concerns. Relying on interviews with direct witnesses, the paper describes the advent of television in the private space of the home in the mid-fifties in Italy, comparing personal memories with the interpretative repertoires filtered down by the popular media system. The paper also tries to contribute to a wider ‘European historical mosaic’ by seeking to relate some aspects peculiar to the Italian scenario to a broader transnational pattern.