Tuesday, 2 January 2007

proposal

am sending off this conference paper proposal, for a conference entitled "CONSTRUCTIONS OF CONFLICT: TRANSMITTING MEMORIES OF THE PAST IN EUROPEAN HISTORIOGRAPHY, LITERATURE AND MEDIA" to be held at Swansea University September 10 - 12, 2007, full call for papers can be seen here.


Commemorating the First World War in Rome, 1915-1930

Rome was the centre of Fascism's national mythmaking project to transform the First World War into a perceived unifying experience which had led inexorably to the Fascist movement. Through public ritual, monumental art and architecture, as well as through publications and speeches, Fascism proposed a particular interpretation of the war. In this vision, the war of 1915-1918 represented Italy's awakening to her destiny of national greatness and to the virtues of violence as a purifying, regenerative instrument of revolution. But how did Italian citizens react to the texts and images which propounded this view? The Roman public in particular were bombarded with symbolic and textual representations of this interpretation, as public commemoration became strictly homogenous and highly politically laden as the 1920s progressed. Yet individuals, families and private groups remembered the war in ways which did not always correspond with fascist rhetoric. The tensions and interactions between memory and commemoration, between private and public discourses and between individual and collective memory produced a highly textured picture, in which citizens' understanding of the war could vary considerably. A case study of Rome during and after the war can reveal some of the ways in which the war was interpreted and remembered in this highly particular local setting. A wide variety of sources, from photographs, newspaper reports and family-produced obituary publications through to memorial inscriptions, funerary monuments and public memorials reveals a broad range of approaches to the conflict and the development and change of these ideas over time. In this way it is possible to interrogate the complex and problematic relationship between the political memory and the social and cultural memory of the First World War.

any one got any comments?

2 comments:

Patrick Porter said...

cool stuff, a 'hidden transcript' story, and it seems one of resistance to fascist mythologising. send me a copy at once!

P

claude said...

This looks great - you've clearly got a pretty good idea of what you want to produce and you attend to theoretical perspectives that naturally arise. Some things:

"Yet individuals, families and private groups remembered the war in ways which did not always correspond with fascist rhetoric."

Is this about divergence from a politically constructed historical narrative? (Ha, is there any other kind.) Can you say narrative instead of rhetoric?

"The tensions and interactions between memory and commemoration, between private and public discourses and between individual and collective memory produced a highly textured picture, in which citizens' understanding of the war could vary considerably."

This is a bit waffly and is pretty heavily implicated in what you've already said, ie "[through manipulation of the public sphere] Fascism proposed a particular interpretation of the war".

This does look really interesting, but your sources are rather cramped into a sentence or two. At what point does private communal participation in commemoration become a public act? Public spheres are always warping deviant in this way: that's implied in their status as political actors. So what was special about the Fascist appropriations? What *kinds* of discourse did they try to set up, and how successful were they in those attempts? I don't mean what lies did they tell, but how they told 'em.

Your last sentence asks the big public sphere question, ie, how can we still attach cultural value, for example, when other values (like political or financial) are entailed? This is the kind of theoretical question that would swallow me whole, of course, which is why I'm a literature student and not a historian. But it seems like that tension is the peg you have to hang your article on, not vice versa.

How did citizens construct their own narratives? In what ways did they swallow the more subtle bits of manipulation?

(Will you be looking at specifically how futurism pimped homogeneity? Who would have thought I'd ask an aesthetic question.)

This is disorganised - I'm sorry. And sorry for the delay.