The Stage of War

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Popular and Academic Representations of Large-scale Conflicts

We would like you invite you to our conference ‘The Stage of War’, to be held 26-27 March 2020 at our Erasmus University Campus. The Stage of War focuses on academic and popular representations of war and other large-scale conflicts. Nowadays, the cultural engagement with the history of violent conflicts spans a multitude of academic and above all popular genres, including (graphic) novels, films, tourism, musicals, games, exhibitions and re-enactments. Producers of popular genres try to bring the past closer to the public through interaction, performance and multi-sensory experience, often to the discontent of academic historians who fear for a distorted or trivialized past. Nonetheless, research indicates that these popular genres can significantly affect and enhance our understanding of the past.
The unique aim of this conference is to stimulate an exchange between academic and popular approaches to the representation of violent conflicts. Instead of just criticizing popular historical culture, we call on academic historians to suggest what a responsible approach to the past might entail. Simultaneously, we ask producers to clarify what the practical and ethical limitations and opportunities are of representing violent pasts in contemporary society. How can we learn from each other? To what extent can critical historical thinking be stimulated through popular productions? This two-day conference is comprised of academic lectures, presentations, roundtable discussions, and a battlefield tour in Rotterdam by military history specialists.

The confirmed keynote speakers are:

Stefan Berger (Ruhr Universität Bochum, Germany) is the Director of the Institute for Social Movements and Professor of Social History at the Ruhr University. He specializes in nationalism and national identity studies, historiography and historical theory, comparative labour studies, and the history of industrial heritage.

Alison Landsberg (George Mason University, USA) is an internationally recognized scholar in the field of memory studies, and author of the books Prosthetic Memory: The Transformation of American Remembrance in the Age of Mass Culture (Columbia UP, 2004), and Engaging the Past: Mass Culture and the Production of Historical Knowledge (Columbia UP, 2015).

Robin de Levita (Robin de Levita Productions, The Netherlands)  is best known for producing more than 80 first class theater productions, winning numerous international awards including Tony Awards for Titanic, 42nd Street and Into the Woods, plus a Laurence Olivier Award for The Who’s Tommy. De Levita has in recent years become famous for his use of innovative staging techniques as a producer of Soldier of Orange (the longest running musical in Dutch history).

Organisation: Maria Grever, Stijn Reijnders, Jeroen Jansz, Kees Ribbens, Susan Hogervorst, Siri Driessen, Pieter van den Heede, Laurie Slegtenhorst, Lise Zurné, Robbert-Jan Adriaansen, Franciska de Jong.

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Read more about the research programme Popular Culture and War Heritage.

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