Course description

Thematically, “Text, Memory and History” challenges national traditions in the field of historical research and historical teaching bringing together researchers and students with different cultural and academic backgrounds.

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Knowledge about the past and about how the past is interpreted, transmitted and used for political, cultural or social purposes, is of extreme importance for the community. When Norway decided to remember 22 July 2011 through important collective manifestations, it simultaneously chose to challenge its own history, as well as to influence the meaning and the future perception of its own past and their own representation.

This simple example shows to what extent past events may be used by different actors and in specific contexts to create a collective perception or conception of the past, but also a picture of a collectiveness. What is more, it tells us something about how present might be influenced by the past, that is, how remembering and forgetting are perpetually intertwined, how the remembrance of something always incorporates the forgetting of something else, and how these processes interact in order to establish a collective discourse of the past and collective myths defined as “products of constructed memory (which, at the same time, also means constructed oblivion)” (Stråth 2000: 26).

The proposed IP actively engages with these cultural tensions, examining how national and cultural traditions obtain meaning through the use of the past. This is also of extreme importance for the teaching of the past and its learning in a transnational perspective.

The proposed IP project will engage a discussion about how national canons and myths survive; how they are silenced or how they are (de-)constructed; and finally how knowledge about the past is transmitted/taught and challenged in an age of globalisation. Hopefully the transnational scale of the project will allow for the identification of trends and phenomena at a new macro level.

The IP has the following thematic objectives:
• Investigate the nature of the debates around memory/heritage issues and collective myths in different national contexts through the question: What kinds of memories and collective myths play a major role in different national communities and in what kinds of contexts (social, political, cultural, religious…)?
• Analyse the mere processing of the discussions on memory issues and collective myths in different national contexts. The main question will be: How do memories interact and how are they used in different national communities (the questions of mediality, narrativity and actorness of memory)?
• Discuss the observable consequences and effects that such discussions have on memory issues and collective myths, especially in terms of perceptions and processes of organisation in the community. The main question will be: What kind of influences does the global/transnational context have on different representations of national memories and myths and on the teaching of the past?
The relationship between national debates on memory/heritage issues and the constitution of national myths will be central in this proposed IP project. The comparative approach will also be very relevant in order to establish whether or not there are main differences in the ways memory/heritage discourses are organized in different national contexts and how they do, or do not, contribute to a stronger collective social feeling.

Pedagogical Objectives and Innovation
The innovative pedagogical methods within the proposed IP focuses on facilitating a free exchange of ideas between the participating staff and students. This particular method is especially designed to impact on curriculum development in each of the institutions, where the “Text, Memory and History” project will function as a “mini-lab” for the development of a new methodology/pedagogy within the field of historical literacy and memory/heritage studies.

The proposed IP is first and foremost facilitating a meeting place between different academic and research traditions, where this collage of cultural traditions is communally shaped into a common reflection about the transnational character of our modern societies/cultures. This IP may lead to support and develop new curriculum, to the opportunity of creating an European Joint Master Programme in Cultural Memory Studies and to new pedagogical projects related to co-tutelle of PhD and MA students.

Expected learning outcomes
• To have knowledge about different national traditions within the interdisciplinary fields of historical literacy, cultural history and heritage/memory studies.
• To have knowledge about the theoretical and methodological framework for historical literacy, cultural history and heritage/memory studies.
• To be able to exploit the terminology and theoretical references in their own reasoning to analyze cultural, political or social objects that have a historical basis and/or significance.
• To develop critical understanding of the use of the past in different cultural, social or political context.
• To work and discuss in groups about different national traditions and in a interdisciplinary perspective.
• To structure and construct a solid argumentation through the elaboration of a paper.
• To organize and take part actively in discussions with others students from different national academic traditions.