The Tirpitz The Influence Of The Exhibitional And Audio Visu

Title of project: The Tirpitz – the influence of the exhibitional and audio-visual mediation on the European collective memory of the history of the battleship

PhD candidate:

Juliane Seidl (UiT/IKLS)


Roswitha Skare (UiT)

Bjørn Sørenssen (NTNU)

Lena Aarekol (UiT)


It is said that Winston Churchill called her «The Beast» and defined her destruction as target with highest priority for the British Royal Air Force. The German battleship Tirpitz was the largest battleship in World War II. Commissioned 25 February 1941, the Tirpitz operated mainly in Northern Norwegian seas and was a major thread to the allied convoys between Murmansk and Great Britain. After various attacks against the ship, and long repairing stops in the Kåfjord close to Alta, it was moved to the Sandnessund close to Tromsø. Here it was destroyed by British bombers in 12 November 1944.

Even first memories about an event are often the result of transcultural journeys (Erll 2011: 64). This idea fits especially for the second and third generations after World War II who have a collective memory about their history and with it their actual identity that is formed crucially by the media of the Western world.

I propose a PhD project about the battleship Tirpitz and its mediation. Within this project, I will examine the mediation of the history about the battleship Tirpitz in several different documentaries from Norway, Germany, and Great Britain and exhibitions in Norway, Great Britain, and Germany. I will also explore the technical development of the genre of the documentary film and with it the change of the European memory process about World War II.

As theoretical frame for this study, I want to use a combination of different theories that deal with culture, memory, and media. Astrid Erll's and Stephanie Wodianka's theory about collective memory (Erll 2011; Erl/Wodianka 2008), Aleida and Jan Assmann's idea of memory (Assmann/Assmann 1995; Assmann 2006), the system of remediation by David Bolter and Richard Grusin (Bolter/Grusin 1999), James Clifford's observation about travelling culture (Clifford 1992), and Richard Crownshaw's article summary about transculturality (Crownshaw 2010) will provide a solid base for the interpretation of the output of the analyses I want to do on the media.

Media-scientific memory research presents a methodological challenge when researching concrete reception methods and the question how media coin our awareness of history (Erll 2011: 163). Working with product analyses, qualitative interview research and techniques specialised on the media, I want to get to the bottom of the memory processes of World War II in Europe.

The examination of the mediation of one event within my project, here the journey of the Tirpitz, in different media from different countries provides various interesting questions about how different media present the story about the Tirpitz, which aspects of the story they highlight, and which they negate. Furthermore, it will be about how this mediation forms the European cultural memory and if and how it cultivates a certain kind of nationalism.

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