Online Seminar 2021 – History in Pop Culture

ISHA Helsinki will organise an online summer seminar on the theme of History in Pop Culture – narratives, storytelling and truths. The seminar will take place online from the 30th of July to the 1st of August 2021.

Pop culture, media, and representation of different events, people and history shape our understanding of the past. In the online seminar, we will dive into different aspects of pop culture and its relation to history. In what ways do the narratives in pop culture phenomena shape our understanding of history and historical consciousness? How truthfully events or groups of people are told in pop culture? Furthermore, who has the power in storytelling, and whose viewpoint are we looking at? These are some of the questions we will be looking at during the seminar.

You can apply for the following workshops:

Artistic Licence in History and Popular Culture

Artistic licence’ – or, as some prefer to say, ‘historical inaccuracy’, is a staple of historical popular culture, and has been so ever since the very emergence of works drawing inspiration from history. This workshop seeks to examine both the why and how of changing the past to tell a story, and both the merits and the possible negative consequences of this practice. Possible topics include the ethics of changing the past in “loosely biographical” film and literature, the notion of “realism” being the same as grittiness (Game of Thrones, we’re looking at you) and the way cultural depictions influence the way people think about history. However, these are only suggestions – what we ultimately end up discussing depends on the people attending.

Propaganda and Historical Popular Culture
All you need to do is prepare a 10 to 15 minutes presentation on propaganda. All topics are fine as long as they deal with propaganda in one way or the other, most preferably in a historical context. The theme is free: feel free to pick any topic that interests you. For example, I would do this on Japanese propaganda in WWII against the Allies. Please define propaganda in your presentations so we have some sort of reference. As propaganda is an ever-changing subject and there is no definitive version of it, we all have our own versions of it. To me, propaganda is influencing people through a variety of means to gain the results the influencer wants.
The presentations will be done during the workshop time and hopefully, we will have time to discuss them in groups and make some sort of cohesive thing for the final conclusion section.
Representation in Popular Culture
In the Representation workshop, we will examine how aspects such as gender, class and ethnicity are represented and constructed in different products of popular culture. Firstly, we will begin the workshop discussing what representation is: its theory, meanings, construction and usage for research about (historical) popular culture. Secondly, we will discuss the short presentations of the participants and examples provided by the workshop leaders.
The workshop aims to look at representation from an intersectional perspective and compare different kinds of representations in popular culture. This gives a lot of room for participants to pick a topic for their presentation – it could be, for example, gender, relationships, class or LGBTQ+ themes represented in a specific book, movie or art, or, on the other side, one could look at peoples’ perception and risen discussion about a popular culture product.
Popular History – a legitimate genre or a threat? 
What are the differences between popular history and history as a discipline? Popular history is a genre of history writing that concerns both non-academic and academic writers. In the most stereotypical form, popular history deals with the history of great men and military history. At its best popular history can serve to make complex problems simple to general readers whereas at its worst popular history enforces already problematic narratives and existing issues in history writing. The works that can be included range from textual works like books and audiovisual works like documentaries. In this workshop, we aim to highlight the issues with popular history and to broaden the participants view on the subject.