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Eldens återsken. Första världskriget i svensk föreställningsvärld

Sturfelt, Lina LU (2008)
Abstract
Reflections of Fire. Images of the First World War in Sweden



This thesis investigates the cultural impact of the First World War in Sweden, and how it shaped Swedish images and narratives about war and neutrality from 1914 to 1935. In line with Paul Fussell, George L. Mosse, and Jay Winter, among others, I discuss the symbolic, discursive aspects of the war at a popular, everyday level. The theoretical concept of narrative is central to the hermeneutic interpretation, focusing on the function of narratives in communicating normative meanings and creating collective identities.

Drawing from the Swedish popular press during the war years (the weekly magazines Allers, Hvar 8 Dag, Idun, and Vecko-Journalen) four... (More)
Reflections of Fire. Images of the First World War in Sweden



This thesis investigates the cultural impact of the First World War in Sweden, and how it shaped Swedish images and narratives about war and neutrality from 1914 to 1935. In line with Paul Fussell, George L. Mosse, and Jay Winter, among others, I discuss the symbolic, discursive aspects of the war at a popular, everyday level. The theoretical concept of narrative is central to the hermeneutic interpretation, focusing on the function of narratives in communicating normative meanings and creating collective identities.

Drawing from the Swedish popular press during the war years (the weekly magazines Allers, Hvar 8 Dag, Idun, and Vecko-Journalen) four major war narratives are identified: the fatalistic, the heroic, the idyllic, and the tragic. Relating to the scholarly debate about the First World War in relation to modernity, it is evident that in this case, the conflict was associated with both modernity and tradition. Furthermore, my findings discard the common assumption in most of the earlier research that contemporary popular culture either ignored or romanticized the war. In contrast, the Swedish popular press frequently portrayed its brutality and horrors. The heroic and idyllic narratives, I argue, should therefore not primarily be seen as ways of censoring “the real war” from the readers, but are better understood as a means of indirectly pointing at the unbearable; as allusive, idealized versions of a dreamt war.

In this study, the still largely unknown war experience of the neutral bystander is also made visible. Although neutrality was partly associated with cowardice, femininity and degeneration, the media primarily created a collective self-understanding of Sweden as morally superior, a model of humanity, progress and reason, in contrast to the European chaos and barbarism. The hitherto neglected role of the First World War in fostering a Swedish identity centred on neutrality and modernity should thus be stressed.

Finally, I examine war remembrance in Swedish literature and film during the 20’s and 30’s, showing that over time, the heroic and idyllic narratives were challenged and marginalized, but never totally dismissed. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
supervisor
opponent
  • lektor Sörensen, Nils Arne, Syddansk Universitet, Odense
organization
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
keywords
modernity, identity, neutrality, narratives, popular press, cultural history, First World War, Sweden, remembrance, images
pages
365 pages
publisher
Sekel Bokförlag
defense location
Historiska institutionen, sal 3, Magle Stora Kyrkogata 12A
defense date
2008-09-20 10:15
ISBN
978-91-85767-24-3
language
Swedish
LU publication?
yes
id
4053181d-0ca1-4faa-b4b9-c9fbe4190044 (old id 1217973)
date added to LUP
2008-08-22 09:00:44
date last changed
2016-09-19 08:45:09
@phdthesis{4053181d-0ca1-4faa-b4b9-c9fbe4190044,
  abstract     = {Reflections of Fire. Images of the First World War in Sweden<br/><br>
<br/><br>
This thesis investigates the cultural impact of the First World War in Sweden, and how it shaped Swedish images and narratives about war and neutrality from 1914 to 1935. In line with Paul Fussell, George L. Mosse, and Jay Winter, among others, I discuss the symbolic, discursive aspects of the war at a popular, everyday level. The theoretical concept of narrative is central to the hermeneutic interpretation, focusing on the function of narratives in communicating normative meanings and creating collective identities. <br/><br>
 Drawing from the Swedish popular press during the war years (the weekly magazines Allers, Hvar 8 Dag, Idun, and Vecko-Journalen) four major war narratives are identified: the fatalistic, the heroic, the idyllic, and the tragic. Relating to the scholarly debate about the First World War in relation to modernity, it is evident that in this case, the conflict was associated with both modernity and tradition. Furthermore, my findings discard the common assumption in most of the earlier research that contemporary popular culture either ignored or romanticized the war. In contrast, the Swedish popular press frequently portrayed its brutality and horrors. The heroic and idyllic narratives, I argue, should therefore not primarily be seen as ways of censoring “the real war” from the readers, but are better understood as a means of indirectly pointing at the unbearable; as allusive, idealized versions of a dreamt war. <br/><br>
 In this study, the still largely unknown war experience of the neutral bystander is also made visible. Although neutrality was partly associated with cowardice, femininity and degeneration, the media primarily created a collective self-understanding of Sweden as morally superior, a model of humanity, progress and reason, in contrast to the European chaos and barbarism. The hitherto neglected role of the First World War in fostering a Swedish identity centred on neutrality and modernity should thus be stressed. <br/><br>
 Finally, I examine war remembrance in Swedish literature and film during the 20’s and 30’s, showing that over time, the heroic and idyllic narratives were challenged and marginalized, but never totally dismissed.},
  author       = {Sturfelt, Lina},
  isbn         = {978-91-85767-24-3},
  keyword      = {modernity,identity,neutrality,narratives,popular press,cultural history,First World War,Sweden,remembrance,images},
  language     = {swe},
  pages        = {365},
  publisher    = {Sekel Bokförlag},
  school       = {Lund University},
  title        = {Eldens återsken. Första världskriget i svensk föreställningsvärld},
  year         = {2008},
}