PhD defense Berber Hagedoorn: how televised history contributes to cultural memory

1898_BerberHagedoorn_voorkant_lowresTelevision is a significant mediator of past and historical events in modern media systems. In my dissertation, to be defended on January 22 2016 at Utrecht University, I study practices of representing the past on Dutch television as a multi-platform phenomenon. My analysis includes, among others, Andere tijden (NPS/NTR/VPRO), NostalgieNet, the documentary project De oorlog/13 in de oorlog (NPS) and the crossmedia documentary project In Europa (VPRO).

Dynamic screen practices such as broadcasting, cross-media platforms, digital thematic channels and online television archives provide access to a wide range of audio-visual materials. By exploring how television’s convergence with new media technologies has affected its role as a mediator of the past, I reflect on how contemporary representations of history contribute to the construction of cultural memory.

The importance of storytelling

Televised histories connect users with the past and provide necessary contextual frameworks through cross-media and transmedia storytelling, demonstrating the continuing importance of stories and memories produced through televisual practices – challenging accepted versions of history.

Experimenting with storytelling practices

Specifically, the poetics of doing history in archive-based and documentary programming are analysed from 2000 onwards, when television professionals in the Netherlands seized the opportunity to experiment with storytelling practices made possible by the increased digitisation of archival collections and the presence of online and digital platforms.

This study is founded on a textual analysis of audio-visual cases to reveal processes of meaning making, and a production studies approach to gain insight into creators’ strategies of broadcasting and multi-platform storytelling in relation to historical events. Such an approach reveals distinct textual, cultural-historical and institutional aims, strategies and conventions for doing history on television, bringing power relations to the surface.

Preserve memories

This dissertation shows, firstly, how the selection and circulation of historical narratives and audio-visual archive materials in new contexts of television works in relation to processes of mediation, hybridity and curation. Secondly, it shows how such practices help to search, preserve and perform individual and collective cultural memories.

The PhD defense will be held in English on 22 January 2016, 12:45 hours at Utrecht University, Academiegebouw. See also the press release (in Dutch and in English) here: