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Commercialised History: Popular History Magazines in Europe

Approaches to a Historico-Cultural Phenomenon as the Basis for History Teaching

by Susanne Popp (Volume editor) Jutta Schumann (Volume editor) Miriam Hannig (Volume editor)
Edited Collection 377 Pages
Open Access

Summary

This volume of essays is the result of the EU project «EHISTO», which dealt with the mediation of history in popular history magazines and explored how history in the commercialised mass media can be used in history teaching in order to develop the media literacy and the transcultural competences of young people. The volume offers articles which for the first time address the phenomenon of popular history magazines in Europe and their mediating strategies in a foundational way. The articles are intended as introductory material for teachers and student teachers. The topic also offers an innovative approach in terms of making possible a European cross-country comparison, in which results based on qualitative and quantitative methods are presented, related to the content focus areas profiled in the national magazines.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of contents
  • Preface
  • EHISTO – European History Crossroads as pathways to intercultural and media education – Report about the EU-project
  • 1. Prehistory of the project – current state of research and basic considerations
  • 1.1 Popular history magazines as a research object
  • 1.2 European History Crossroads
  • 1.3 The linkage of media-critical competences with intercultural competences
  • 2. Objectives and project implementation
  • 2.1 Objectives of the EHISTO project
  • 2.2 Implementation of the project
  • 3. The central results of the project: Learning Objects, initial teacher training module and in-service teacher training course
  • 3.1 The Learning Objects (LOs with teacher manual)
  • 3.1.1 Basic information about the LOs on World War One
  • 3.1.2 Basic Information about the LOs on Columbus
  • 3.2 Initial teacher training and further teacher training
  • 4. The long-term practical implementation of the project results
  • Popular history magazines between transmission of knowledge and entertainment – some theoretical remarks
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Popular history magazines
  • 3. The ‘popular’ dimension of popular history magazines
  • 4. Some characteristics of the magazines’ construction of history
  • 5. Popular history magazines from the point of view of history didactics
  • 6. Prospects for further research
  • Bygone news. The journalistic formatting of history
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. The economy of history
  • 3. History and event
  • 4. Journalism and event
  • 5. Forms of presentation in history magazines
  • 6. Duplicated event constitution
  • 7. Conclusion
  • Popular historical writing from a narratological perspective
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. On the narrativity of popular historical writing
  • 3. On the narrativity of history magazines
  • 4. On the narrativity of TV documentaries
  • 5. On the narrativity of historical museums
  • 6. Possible narratological consequences for popular historical writing
  • Why Napoleon is exciting time after time: media logics and history
  • 1. Media logics
  • 1.1 News factors
  • 1.2 Framing
  • 1.3 Narrative logics: narrativity factors
  • 1.4. Summary media logics
  • 2. Topicality
  • 3. Conclusion
  • Popular knowledge communication in history magazines from a receptional psychology point of view
  • 1. Structure of history magazines
  • 2. Entertaining elements in history magazines
  • 2.1 Dramatisation
  • 2.2 Emotionalisation
  • 2.3 Personalisation and present-day relevance
  • 2.4 Fictionalisation
  • 3. History specific reception
  • 4. Research outlook: Hybrid processing and affective aspects of the reception of historical content
  • The Function and use of image documents in German popular history magazines
  • 1. The relevance of the visual design of popular scientific magazines
  • 2. Recording and analysing the picture inventory of popular scientific history magazines
  • 3. Comparative considerations on the image inventory and on the culture of the use of image documents
  • 4. The effects of the magazine structure on the use of images
  • Conclusion
  • The use of history in popular history magazines. A theoretical approach
  • 1. The Presence of History
  • 2. Formation of Historical Culture Through History
  • 3. The Medieval Crusades in History Magazines
  • 4. Summary and Conclusions
  • Popular history magazines in Germany
  • 1. History magazines in Germany: crisis or boom?
  • 2. The current range of popular history magazines
  • 2.1 Inception and frequency of publication of popular history magazines
  • 2.2 Sales price and size of the issue
  • 2.3 History in very-special-interest magazines
  • 2.4 The seal of ‘popular scientific’ as a collective whole with nuances
  • 3. The results of the cover page analysis
  • 3.1 The category ‘time’
  • 3.2 The category ‘place’
  • 3.2.1 Continents or major areas
  • 3.2.2 Countries within Europe
  • 3.3 The category ‘topic’
  • 3.4 The category ‘title’
  • 3.5 The category ‘pictures’
  • 4. Conclusion
  • History magazines in the UK
  • 1. Background: Media history culture in the UK
  • 2. Research approach
  • 3. A survey of various types of history magazine in the UK
  • 3.1 History magazines in the field of ‘hobby’ and ‘leisure’
  • 3.2 Particular ‘strands’ of history
  • 3.3 ‘Heritage’ magazines
  • 3.4 Magazines on family history and genealogy
  • 3.5 History education magazines
  • 3.6 General interest history magazines
  • 4. How do British history magazines sell ‘history’?
  • 4.1 Estimates on the part of the editors
  • 4.2 The results of the front cover analysis
  • 5. The influence and impact of history magazines in the UK
  • The use of powerful men, naked women and war to sell. Popular history magazines in Sweden
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Overview of the popular history magazine market in Sweden
  • 2.1 Popular History Magazines in Sweden
  • 2.2 The magazines’ presentations of themselves
  • 2.3 Summary and interpretation of the magazines’ presentations of themselves
  • 3. Title page analysis
  • 3.1 Aims and method: selection of the studied magazines – criteria and categories
  • 3.2 The design of the front cover (text and pictures)
  • 3.3 The category ‘time’
  • 3.4 The category ‘place’
  • 3.5 The category ‘topic’
  • 3.6 Personalities and men and women on the front cover
  • 4. Evaluation and interpretation of the front cover page analysis
  • 5. Conclusion and discussion
  • Perpetrators, victims, heroes – the Second World War and National Socialism in Danish history magazines
  • 1. HISTORIE and ALT OM HISTORIE
  • 2. Analysis
  • 2.1 Perpetrators
  • 2.2 Heroes
  • 2.3 Victims
  • 3. Discussion of the results
  • Popular history magazines between information and entertainment. A qualitative study on the expectations of consumers
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Methodology
  • 3. Results
  • 3.1 Consumer behaviour: when and where are popular history magazines bought?
  • 3.2 Preferred topics: which topics are favoured in popular history magazines?
  • 3.3 Exemplary comparison of the magazines on the same topic: how are the different magazines seen?
  • 3.4 Very-special-interest magazines: are ideological subtexts expected?
  • 3.5 Brazilian history magazines: ‘childish’ or different viewing habits?
  • 3.6 To what extent do the ‘history groups’ think that their expectations of popular history magazines are different from the expectations of the broad readership?
  • 3.7 After the reading or what happens to the magazines after they have been read?
  • 3.8 History magazines in school: potential and limits
  • 4. Desiderata and prospects
  • A case study of the use of popular history magazines in history teaching in England
  • Context of the case study
  • The aims of the case study
  • Research approach
  • Findings
  • Conclusions and lessons learned
  • Summaries
  • Authors

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Preface

This volume is based on the EU project EHISTO – European History Crossroads as pathways to intercultural and media education – which started in November 2013 and lasts two years. The project responded to the increasing significance of a commercialised use of history within the public historical culture and challenged the fact that these representations do not always meet the didactic EU standards for history education in democratic, pluralistic, and multicultural societies. Nevertheless, these representations can have a lasting impact on the young generation’s understanding of history. The rationale of the EHISTO project on the one hand was to explore how history in mass media can be critically reflected in history teaching in schools, in the education of history teachers, and in the continuing professional development of teachers in order to enhance the media literacy of young people. On the other hand, the EHISTO project explored how the transnational comparison of different national approaches to history in mass media can contribute to a better understanding of European history (unity in diversity) and strengthen the intercultural competences in history education within and outside of school.

This was to be achieved in particular by creating interactive online modules (Learning Objects) for schools whose aim is to further the development of intercultural and media-critical competences of young people in dealing with the commercial representations of history which they encounter outside of the history classroom. Accordingly, the idea of democratic citizenship and lifelong learning is at the core of the project.

In order to examine the representation of history in mass media in school the EHISTO project particularly focused on the phenomenon of popular history magazines, which have become increasingly popular and available across EU countries. Further reasons why especially history magazines provided a good working basis for the project were that they are subject to commercial conditions, they represent a medium which both pupils and teachers consume, and they feature a curriculum-compatible mediality. Regarding the content, previous studies have shown that on the one hand popular history magazines from different countries in Europe are – in contrast to other ← 9 | 10 → commercially characterised media products – strongly focused on national markets, but on the other hand have many topics in common. However, the common topics naturally take more or less varying perspectives. These features of history magazines were especially important for the project since the analysis of national perspectives on historical topics debated throughout Europe (European History Crossroads) was to be a decisive basis for the Learning Objects.

In this volume the first article gives an account of the EHISTO project and its results as well as especially the Learning Objects for history teaching in the classroom, which have been developed during the project. The other contributions, however, are supposed to reach beyond the framework of these Learning Objects, since the aim of the project was not only to design teaching material for schools: another important objective was to integrate the topics of media literacy, intercultural competences, and the use of history in commercial mass media into the initial and in-service teacher training. Following this general aim, the 13 contributions in this volume are conceptualised as basic information for interested teachers, students of teaching, educators, researchers, policy makers and stakeholders who want to deepen their knowledge about this topic. Thereby, we are especially interested in teacher training: we have come to the conclusion – not least due to evaluations during the course of the project – that the sustainability of the project can be best achieved if the project results are integrated into the education of teachers. Accordingly, it is necessary to provide study material, which shall be supplied by this volume.

Thereby, a double-track approach is pursued in the further course of the book: the first seven articles try to provide basic information from an interdisciplinary point of view. First of all Susanne Popp evaluates the phenomenon of popular history magazines from the point of view of German history didactics and tries to define the very thin line between knowledge and entertainment, which is a determining factor for every history magazine that wants to be successful on the market. Subsequently, the cultural scientist Fabio Crivellari uses a media science approach in his contribution to especially reflect the mediality of popular history magazines and the way of presenting history. He discusses the theoretical findings by drawing on examples from the presentation of the First World War in popular history magazines. ← 10 | 11 → A particularly interesting perspective is offered by the linguist Stephan Jaeger, who especially acknowledges the way in which history magazines ‘tell a story’ and the methods recognizable behind this. A media scientific problem is also discussed by the media expert Susanne Kinnebrock, who asks how history magazines manage to engage today’s readers in the past even though topicality is a central news factor. Manuela Glaser, on the contrary, deals with the effects which popular history magazines can have on the reader and in this way her contribution adds a media psychological point of view to the volume. With pictures being a very important momentum for the popular mediacy of history, the contribution by the history educator Michael Wobring is devoted to some methodological considerations how the use of images in popular media can be evaluated empirically in future research. The first part of the volume concludes with the contribution by the historian Marianne Sjöland, who gives a theoretical introduction to analysing the use of history based on popular history magazines in Sweden and England.

In the second part of the volume, six empirical analyses offer further insight into some European countries and their market of popular history magazines thereby focusing on the topics which are given priority treatment in the magazines. Country-specific studies of this kind are provided by Claudius Springkart (Germany), Terry Haydn (UK) and Monika Vinterek (Sweden). Katja Gorbahn especially focuses on Danish history magazines and the question which point of view they take in dealing with National Socialism and the German occupation of Denmark. Miriam Hannig’s research work is also focused on Germany and provides a study on the consumers’ expectations in regard to their attitudes towards history magazines. The volume is concluded with a further contribution by Terry Haydn that links back to the primary objectives of the EHISTO project and presents a case study on the use of popular history magazines in history teaching in England.

In that way, the 13 contributions provide a broad range of basic analyses and European perspectives on a field that has so far not been taken into consideration by research. The editors hope that this broad approach may facilitate the access to this interesting topic for teachers, teacher educators, students, as well as other educating institutions and may encourage them to integrate this topic into their professional practice, especially ← 11 | 12 → in the initial teacher training of history teachers. Furthermore, this volume wants to promote research on a topic which will gain more and more attention in school practice during the next years.

Susanne Popp, Jutta Schumann, Miriam Hannig

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Jutta Schumann/Susanne Popp/Miriam Hannig

EHISTO – European History Crossroads as pathways to intercultural and media education. A report about the EU project (2012–2014)

The EHISTO project deals with the mediation of history in popular (scientific) media and the question of the social and political responsibility of journalists and other mediators of history, especially teachers, in the field of the commercial presentation of history.1 The project responds to the increasing significance of a commercialised mediation of history within public historical culture and reflects the fact that these representations, which do not always meet the EU standards for history education, can have a lasting impact on the younger generation’s understanding of history.

The rationale for the EHISTO project was to explore how history in the mass media can be used for teaching history in schools, in the education of history teachers, and in continuing professional development for teachers, in order to enhance the critical media literacy of young people. This was to be achieved in particular by developing interactive online modules (Learning Objects) for schools whose aim is to further the development of the intercultural and media-critical competence of young people in dealing with commercial representations of history, which they encounter outside the history classroom.

The EHISTO project, which was supported by the EU-LLP, started in November 2013 and lasted two years. The project group consisted of four university experts in history didactics, one expert in media didactics and the FWU (Institute for Film and Pictures in Science and Education) as institute for the creation of educational media.2 All university partners closely ← 13 | 14 → cooperated with local ‘EHISTO partner schools’. Eleven history teachers and more than 300 pupils contributed to the creation of the interactive online modules (Learning Objects); they also tested and evaluated them with regard to their practical suitability. The group was supported by an international research network reaching from Augsburg to Shanghai as well as by academic advisors and international networks such as e.g. the International Society for History Didactics (ISHD3) EUROCLIO (European Association of History Educators4) and the DVV International, the Institute for the International Cooperation of the German Association of Adult Education5.

The following project report is divided into four parts: the prehistory of the EHISTO project is illustrated in the first part, which contains the current state of research as well as the basic considerations of the EU project. This part will elaborate on the use of popular history magazines as a focus of research, as well as on the basic concept of European History Crossroads (EHC) and the linkage of media-critical competences with intercultural competences (1). The second part introduces the aims and the implementation of the project (2) and the third part presents the project’s central results: learning modules, initial teacher training module and in-service teacher training course whereby the Learning Objects (LOs) on the two EHC ‘Columbus and the “discovery” of the “new world”’ and ‘The “outbreak” of World War One’ conceptualised in the scope of the project form the foundation for teacher training and advanced training courses (3). The report ends with considerations about the long-term practical implementation of the project results (4).

1. Prehistory of the project – current state of research and basic considerations

1.1 Popular history magazines as a research object

In order to examine the representation of history in mass media in school the EHISTO project focused on the phenomenon of popular history magazines← 14 | 15 → in particular, which have become increasingly popular and available across EU countries. However, there were further reasons why history magazines provided a good working basis for the project:

 The magazines are subject to commercial conditions. Accordingly, the specific question can be posed – also in comparison to presentations in school books – how ‘history’ is constructed and presented so as to ensure the commercial success of the product.6

 They represent a medium that both pupils and teachers consume and that covers manifold topics which are easily connected to the curriculum and which are ‘topical’ (due to their periodicity). In addition, the magazines feature curriculum-compatible mediality (text, image documents, graphics) and are readily available to be used in the classroom.

 The popular history magazines in Europe are – in contrast to other commercially characterised media products (e.g. films, video games, comics) – on the one hand strongly focused on national markets. On the other hand, as has been shown in previous studies (see below), the magazines from different countries have many topics in common (e.g. famous personalities; events with a pan-European impact such as wars, peace settlements, revolutions; transnational phenomena like migration, cultural exchange, religions, social and political movements). These features of history magazines were especially important for the project since the analysis of national perspectives on historical topics debated throughout Europe was to be a decisive basis for the LOs (see below, European History Crossroads).

Even though history magazines are readily available they have attracted comparatively little attention with history and media studies as well as history didactics, although these history journalistic products form a significant part of public history culture.7 It is striking that the analysis of ← 15 | 16 → history magazines in a trans-nationally comparative perspective, which would make the differences and similarities visible in the presentation of history in different countries, has so far not been carried out.

So as to gain first insights, an internationally oriented conference was organised in Amsterdam preceding the project in 2010 that explored popular history magazines from a comparative European perspective and evaluated their potential for the advancement of LL key competences for history teaching.

In order to approach the topic in a useful way a market and cover page analysis was initially carried out by all participants in Amsterdam, which was implemented following a jointly developed catalogue of criteria. The evaluations performed in all countries revealed some informative results, which, however, still have to be confirmed by further research.8

It became clear that in all participating countries the biographical approach prevailed: popular presentations of history often work with a ‘great’ – mostly male – personality whose life story is connected to important contemporary events. Thematically, wars and conflicts dominate all history magazines. Even though the First and the Second World Wars surely have to be mentioned as central preoccupations of the magazines, the choice of the conflicts considered, is strongly aligned according to the great moments of the respective national histories. Similarly, this tendency is followed by the epochs to which particular attention is paid.

The insight that national history has a great share in all countries was a decisive criterion in shaping the EHISTO project since the history magazines therewith offered good starting points to compare national perspectives on history with transnational European and global presentations of history (see also the ‘European History Crossroads’ below).

All in all, the conference in Amsterdam made clear that the popular presentation of history in many countries is strongly oriented along the lines of 19th century historiography, which exhibits similar areas of focus ← 16 | 17 → thematically, as well as in emphasising ‘great’ men who make history. More recent approaches to history such as the history of mentalities, gender issues or historico-cultural approaches are, in comparison, not entirely ignored, but are far less taken into account.

Besides the results which the conference in Amsterdam has brought about country-specific individual studies primarily existing in Sweden, Germany and France may be mentioned at this stage, which are all, however, from recent years.9 The international overview of research on popular history magazines has so far revealed that the access is limited in three main ways. The studies (a) merely address one specific point in time in their analysis and neglect a diachronic perspective or (b) they develop a diachronic perspective, but thereby merely deal with one magazine. Lastly, (c) the studies are generally limited to a national market and do not draw an international comparison; moreover, trans-national questions ← 17 | 18 → are missing. The EHISTO project is a reaction to this state of research: the analyses and Learning Objects are aimed at an international comparison and the ‘European History Crossroads’ address the trans-national similarities and differences of the national history culture in Europe.

1.2 European History Crossroads

The concept of ‘European History Crossroads’10 first developed by the Council of Europe was also fundamental to the EHISTO project. The concept includes topics of European history that are a part of the national history narrative everywhere in Europe and which are taught at school.

Details

Pages
377
ISBN (PDF)
9783653052534
ISBN (ePUB)
9783653975307
ISBN (MOBI)
9783653975291
ISBN (Hardcover)
9783631657799
Open Access
CC-BY-NC-ND
Language
English
Publication date
2014 (November)
Published
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2015. 377 pp., 44 b/w fig., 11 tables

Biographical notes

Susanne Popp (Volume editor) Jutta Schumann (Volume editor) Miriam Hannig (Volume editor)

Susanne Popp is professor of History Didactics at the University of Augsburg (Germany) and chairwoman of the International Society for History Didactics. Together with Jutta Schumann, who works as a research associate at the University of Augsburg, and Miriam Hannig, she managed the EU project EHISTO (2012-2014).

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Title: Commercialised History: Popular History Magazines in Europe