Eldens återsken: Första världskriget i svensk föreställningsvärld

Forskningsoutput: AvhandlingDoktorsavhandling (monografi)

2440 Nedladdningar (Pure)


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.
Tilldelande institution
  • Historia
  • Salomon, Kim, handledare
  • Zander, Ulf, handledare
Tilldelningsdatum2008 sep. 20
ISBN (tryckt)978-91-85767-24-3
StatusPublished - 2008

Bibliografisk information

Defence details

Date: 2008-09-20
Time: 10:15
Place: Historiska institutionen, sal 3, Magle Stora Kyrkogata 12A

External reviewer(s)

Name: Sörensen, Nils Arne
Title: lektor
Affiliation: Syddansk Universitet, Odense


Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ)

  • Historia

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