Disaster, Youth, Nostalgia: Re-imagining the 1910s in contemporary British and German culture. (Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Emer O’Sullivan)


Concurrent to the centenaries of the Titanic disaster and the First World War, the commemorations of which have received much media attention, recent years have seen a newly restored cultural interest and engagement with the historical period that bore these disastrous events: the Edwardian era in Britain and Wilhelmine Germany. Contemporary re-imaginings of the 1910s propagate a specific image of an era that is simultaneously invested in historical commemoration and nostalgic romanticisation, a growing trend that is in need of critical evaluation. This research project aims to examine generic and nation-specific engagements with the 1910s in British and German ‘high’ and ‘popular’ culture as they are manifested in contemporary media productions ranging from literature to film and television formats. Amongst the central questions of this research project are: how might these contemporary re-imaginings challenge or subvert previous conceptions of the 1910s? Is the recent interest in ‘heritage’ and ‘historical’ re-imaginings of the 1910s indicative of a genuine need  to (re-)engage with a historical period and its pivotal events, e.g. the First World War, or merely a desire for escapism and nostalgia? To what extent do they represent a commodification of the past? How are these productions to be ultimately assessed within the realms of cultural memory formation and Anglo-German relations?