15th Jun 2016 5:00pm-7:00pm

Grand Parade


Tina van der Vlies (Erasmus University, Rotterdam)

G4, Grand Parade.

Next to the fact that the present affects how the past is narrated and interpreted, past events play an important role in understanding and interpreting the present and future. New events can gain attention by replacing others or by starting a conversation with already dominant memories and histories (Rothberg, 2009). Why and how are events connected in historical narrations? Cross‐references between histories can provide insight in widespread ‘patterns’ for narrating, remembering and interpreting the past (Van der Vlies, 2016). Some historical events can function as important anchors in the narration of the past and in collective memory. Northrop Frye used the word ‘resonance’ ‒ a reverberating sound ‒ for echoing memories or images and stressed the potential of their metaphorical use, moving away from the specific original in a particular context, bridging temporal distance and receiving universal significance (Frye, 1981).

This paper scrutinises ways in which the past is remembered and narrated about in English and Dutch history textbooks, published for pupils in the age group between 11-14 years old in the 1925-1965 period, and explores how and why textbook narratives about different topics, events or periods ‘resonate’ each other. I pay special attention to the constitution of national narratives as a greater understanding of the mechanisms and the circumstances of their perpetuation and reconstruction can be a step forward in ‘defusing their explosive potential’ (Berger, 2007). This paper discusses two case-studies: the English defeat of the Spanish Armada (1588) in English textbooks and the start of the Dutch Revolt (1568-1584) in Dutch history textbooks. How and why are these histories connected to newly added stories, such as about the Second World War? This paper argues that the study of resonance patterns in history textbooks can reveal widespread frames for constructing knowledge and ideas about the past, as well as the present and future.

Tina van der Vlies works as a lecturer and PhD candidate at the Centre for Historical Culture, Erasmus University Rotterdam. Her research project ‘Historical Scholarship and School History: National Narratives in Dutch and English Textbooks, 1920-2010’ is funded by The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (2011-2016). Van der Vlies graduated cum laude in History from the Erasmus University Rotterdam. Working as a history teacher, she also graduated cum laude in Education from the University of Leiden. Recently, she was awarded with the ISCHE Early Career Paper Award for her paper ‘Multidirectional War Narratives in History Textbooks’.