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Between images: Understanding national identities
Högskolan i Halmstad, Sektionen för humaniora (HUM), Kontext & kulturgränser (KK).
2011 (Engelska)Konferensbidrag, Publicerat paper (Övrigt vetenskapligt)
Abstract [en]

Between 1747 and 1763, an Englishman living in Copenhagen, by the name of Charles Bertram, maintained a correspondence with Dr. William Stukeley. This correspondence covered primarily their mutual interest in antiquarianism, especially that of Britain. Throughout this correspondence, Bertram explicitly identifies himself as British, and expresses his great desire for Britain’s glory and success. For various reasons, Dr. Stukeley refuses to think of him as British, stating in 1757 that Bertram’s letter contained material of a type “as usual with foreigners.” In the terminology of an imagologist, Bertram’s auto-image, his idea of what it means to be British, differs from Stukeley’s. When I speak of imagology I am referring not to the study of public images, nor to geological studies, but to the study of national stereotypes and national identity as they appear in written texts. The aim of imagology “is to understand a discourse of representation rather than a society.” For this particular study, I am especially interested in what Leerssen calls “[p]atterns, not only of Othering, but also of the maintenance of selfhood through historical remembrance and cultural memory.” It appear to me that Bertram, in exile, and thus removed from the contemporary development of the auto-image ‘British,’ struggles to maintain his selfhood within an identity constructed as ‘British.’ He does this partly by literally writing himself into British history: he not only constructs a family history connecting him to historical occurrences, but ‘discovers’ – in fact fabricates - a medieval manuscript which depicts Roman Britain as vaster than it was. For me as the biographer, Bertram’s auto-image represents a two-fold problem. Firstly, there is the issue of point of view: whether Bertram should count as British or Danish, I cannot view either as an auto-image; to me, it will unavoidably be a hetero-image, an image of the Other. As Joep Leerssen points out, “[a]ny representation of cultural relations is a representation of a cultural confrontation; and the author's own cultural values and presupposititions are inevitably involved in this confrontation.” When speaking of Bertram’s understanding of himself as British, I end up involved in a similar cultural confrontation. Secondly, the image of ‘Britishness’ has shifted since the 18th century; what did it mean to be British then, to the British and to others, and how can this understanding be recaptured by a writer of the 21st century? In writing Bertram’s biography, I am obliged to confront this double difficulty.

 

 

Ort, förlag, år, upplaga, sidor
2011.
Nyckelord [en]
imagology, history, biography, 18th century, historiography
Nationell ämneskategori
Studier av enskilda språk
Identifikatorer
URN: urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-16265OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hh-16265DiVA, id: diva2:441667
Konferens
Representing Lives: A Workshop on Biographical Research, Oulu, September 29-30, 2011
Tillgänglig från: 2011-09-18 Skapad: 2011-09-18 Senast uppdaterad: 2018-03-22Bibliografiskt granskad

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Hildebrand, Kristina

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