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The Canadian Centre for German and European Studies
CCGES > Current Projects > The Past on Display: Museums, Film, Memory

The Past on Display: Museums, Film, Memory

Building on previous work on cultural memory in the CCGES, this research project is concerned with questions of changing processes of knowledge production in Germany and the construction of cultural memory through visual media. This project is based on two premises: first, that museums and exhibitions now represent one of the privileged sites “for the classification and ordering of knowledge, the production of ideology and the disciplining of a public,” (Henning 2006) and second, that the visual media (especially film, but also television and digital media) are playing an increasingly significant role in the shaping of historical and cultural knowledge. Also crucial for our conception is the notion that many techniques, practices and intellectual concerns that were once primarily the domain of museums and exhibitions have infiltrated the visual media. Though occasionally described by scholars in relation to the notion of musealization, these shifts have failed to receive sustained study as a cultural phenomenon with strong implications for the functions of cultural memory and historical knowledge. Adopting multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches, we aim to explore the intersections between the exhibition practices of the museum and the visual media. Using the notion of musealization, we seek in particular to deepen our understanding of what the museum and visual media now share in their shaping of cultural memory and history as well as the differences that remain in the contributions to memory and history made by museums and exhibitions and the visual media.

Research Directors: Prof. Peter McIsaac, Department of Germanic Languages & Literatures, University of Michigan  & Prof. Gabriele Mueller, Dept. of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics, York University
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