Chris Flinterman MA
Area(s) of interest: European History, Film, Photography & Audio Visual Media, Popular Culture
Cohort/Start PhD: 2022-2023
The 1920s revisited: The cultural memory of 1920s Berlin in contemporary popular culture
University of Groningen
Promotor(es): Prof. dr. Anthonya Visser, dr. Johannes Müller
Present day society seems to be obsessed with the ‘roaring twenties’. Especially in Germany, the number of popular cultural objects reviving 1920s Berlin is massive. This revival is significant, since there are few living witnesses left; the memory of this period will largely be constructed through popular culture. It should also be noted that popular culture is not unbiased in the way it represents the 1920s: through emphasizing the glamorous sides and downplaying negative sides, such as the rise of Nazism, it appropriates history for its own purposes. Using the 1920s can serve two functions: either it sets a positive example for our own time, or it warns against a recurrence of its downfall in National Socialism.
The glamourous image in popular culture also feeds into a nostalgia for the 1920s. The feeling of nostalgia can be read as a criticism of the present, thereby revealing what is felt to be missing or wrong with the present.
This PhD project will investigate what cultural memory is constructed of 1920s Berlin in popular culture by analyzing objects from four different areas: literature, film, music and visual art. It will try to unravel the complex constructed memory that is created by these media and show their connections with news media comparisons, as well as how they feed into the nostalgia. By doing so, the project will show why the 1920s are popular again and what their image in contemporary popular culture has to say about our society.