Noakes L & Pattinson J (2013) British Cultural Memory and the Second World War. London: Bloomsbury. ISBN: 9781441160577
This co-edited collection brings together work by key and emerging historians researching the cultural memory of the war in Britain. Investigating the construction and circulation of cultural memory, the collection brings a fresh perspective on this area, with chapters examining previously unexplored ‘sites of memory’ including consumer items, memoirs and ‘forgotten’ war films of the 1950s. Together they examine the interplay between the various ‘memories’ of 1939–1945 that have circulated in post-war Britain.
Noakes’ chapter contribution, ‘War on the web’: The BBC ‘People’s War’ website and memories of fear in 21st-century Britain, presents a historically focused case study of digital memory, a field currently dominated by media and sociological analysis. The paper has been presented at seminars and conferences in Europe, Australia and the USA, and develops out of earlier work on gender, memory and national identity (War and the British: 1998; The BBC’s ‘People’s War’ website, 2009).
Noakes questions the nature of cultural memory in the digital age, expanding scholarship on cultural memory that has previously focused on more established sites of memory such as museums, memorials and traditional media. In particular, the chapter opens up new lines of enquiry surrounding the ways that the internet opens up the stage of public representation and enables previously marginalised memories to find an audience.
Noakes' research uses textual analysis to consider the discursive strategies used to represent death and popular memory theory to explore why, given the apparent freedom of the internet, there is still relatively little representation of fear in wartime to be found on the web. The chapter explores the representation of fear articulated by both military and civilian veterans through the BBC website, demonstrating the continued power of dominant discourses to shape the articulation of war memories in the digital age.