Conference Announcement: Myths, Gender and the Military Conquest of Air and Sea

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University of Oldenburg, Germany

Myths, Gender and the Military Conquest of Air and Sea
22-25 April 2009 at the University of Oldenburg, Germany

An interdisciplinary German-British conference of the universities of Oldenburg, Braunschweig, Brighton, Reading and Salford

Since the First World War the spaces and zones within which submarines and aircraft have operated have been a major part of military activity. At the same time, air and sea have been associated with the visions and practices of civilian technological conquests. Both the military and civilian conquering of the depths of the sea and the 'third dimension' have been marked by fascination and the creation of myths, which show fascinating similarities and contrasts. These phenomena have been more or less explicitly determined by gender constructions and semantics as well as by discourses of nationalism, technology and modernity.

The conference 'The Military Conquest of Air and Sea: Myths and Memory' intends to examine the long-term impact of military and civilian attitudes towards conquering the (under-)sea (world) and the air (the so-called 'third dimension'). In fact, the experience of flying has caused a shift in the way space and time are dealt with in the arts. In popular culture as well, new patterns of consciousness and interpretation have become evident. Other conceptions of typologies of modern man have emerged, while different concepts of masculinity and femininity are developing. Civilian and military social spheres have always been closely intertwined with each other. The mobilisation of women on the home front in both world wars, the inclusion and exclusion of women in the army, and the reintegration of soldiers into civilian life have all had a great impact on gender constructions and gender relations. Military heroes have become civilian heroes and vice versa. Scientists and technicians have worked not only on civilian but also on military projects; visions of national power and supremacy have been defined by military as well as civilian control of (sub)marine and air space.

Therefore, the interdisciplinary conference seeks to broaden the traditional view of the submarine and aircraft by focusing on the topic of the military conquest of submarine and aerial space, considering in particular the British and German perspectives on a broad range of issues.

1. Memory-Remembering-Nation
By way of introduction, this section will shed light on the theoretical questions involved in the interdependence of the process of creating myths and remembering, not forgetting the accompanying constructions of national collectives. Lectures will be delivered on the theoretical discourse of memory, remembering and myths, taking into account the correlation between national cultures of remembrance and gender constructions. In addition, it is intended to include comparative and survey studies of war, weapon systems and nations, including the significance of both world wars in popular literature and film, and the specific nature of German U-boat myths.

2. Gender Semantics and the Techniques of Modern Civilian Technologies of Conquest
In this part covering the civilian sphere, the focus will be directed to the (dis)continuities of myths, fears and fascination and the gender images involved. Various cultural practices will be examined, such as popular cultures, science fiction, fine arts, literature, and also various scientific cultures. Within this framework we will investigate how emergencies, disasters or fears are dealt in the media (e.g., Titanic films or the Challenger disaster).

3. Constructions of Military Masculinity in Reference to Weapon Systems
This third section focuses on the myths of heroes and constructions of belligerent masculinity in connection with gender roles and relations in war and peace. Special forms of social formation and interconnectivity will be a central theme, i.e. the relationship of soldiers with or as mediated by weapon systems. A case in point is the U-boat commander as an individual hero who simultaneously represents his crew. Similarly, the fighter pilot is seen as the lone warrior and a member of his squadron at the same time. Papers on the formation of the self-construction and the self-image of the soldier and metaphors of submarine warfare (wolves, packs, iron caskets) will be included as part of this section.

4. Museum-display and Memorialising between "Communicative" and "Cultural Memory"
This section will analyse the (dis)continuities in official cultures of memory: in other words, specific types of monuments, such as the U-boat Memorial in Möltenort, the Royal Air Force Memorial in London, or museums displaying air and sea wars or weapon systems. Beyond this level of analysis, the practices and patterns of remembering found in (inter)national communities of former U-boat crew members and fighter pilots, as well as their individual recollections, will be a central theme. By taking this perspective, it will be possible to reach a broader understanding of the interaction and blending of "collective" myths, popular culture, and public and private forms of remembering.


Wednesday, 22 April

19.00 Public Evening Lecture, Kulturzentrum PFL, Peterstr. 3
Welcome Address
Prof Dr Silke Wenk, Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg

The Second World War in Cinema during and after 1939-45. Changes and Ruptures in Memory Cultures
Prof Dr Penny Summerfield, University of Manchester

20.30 Conference Reception
Welcome Address
Martin Schuhmacher, Head of Cultural Affairs of the City of Oldenburg

Thursday, 23 April

Location: Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg, Hörsaalgebäude, A 14 1-111


9.00 – 11.00
Opening Remarks and Chair
Prof Dr Herbert Mehrtens, Technische Universität Braunschweig

Concepts of Memory in War and Cultural Studies in GB
Dr Lucy Noakes, University of Brighton
Concepts of Memory and Postwar Myths in Germany
Prof Dr Silke Wenk, Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg
Fascinations and Myths – Air and Sea
Dr Sabine Höhler, Deutsches Museum Munich
Dr Petra-Utta Rau, University of Portsmouth

11.00 Tea Break

11.30 - 13.30
Chair: Prof Dr Herbert Mehrtens, Technische Universität Braunschweig

England and the Aeroplane Revisited
Prof Dr David Edgerton, Imperial College London
Popular Visions and Military Decisions. The Cultural Appropriation of the Aeroplane in Germany, 1908-1914
Dr Christian Kehrt, Deutsches Museum Munich
Submarine Warfare Films
Dr Jonathan Rayner, University of Sheffield
Dr Jahnavi Phalkey, Georgia Tech-Lorraine Metz

13.30 - 15.00 Lunch Break


15.00 – 17.00
Chair: Dr Sue Malvern, University of Reading

The Aviator's Eye: Gender Structures of the Panoramic and Scopic View and the View from a Plane
Prof Dr Irene Nierhaus, University of Bremen
"Every Exploration Is an Appropriation": Aerial Photography, Architectural Discourse and Postwar Reconstruction
Tom Allbeson, University of Durham
Women Sport Pilots and their Contributions to Expansionist Policies in Germany and Great Britain between 1918 and 1933
Dr Evelyn Zegenhagen, National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC
Prof Dr Helmuth Trischler, Deutsches Museum Munich

17.00 Coffee Break

17.30 - 19.30
Chair: Dr Sue Malvern, University of Reading

The Hero Has No Future: The Staging of Masculinity in British Postwar Film and Fiction
Prof Dr Gill Plain, University of St Andrews, Scotland
Case study: The Sinking of the Titanic
Ute Rösler, Technische Universität Braunschweig
The Memory of a Man-made Disaster: The Space Shuttle Challenger
Eileen Kwiecinski, Technische Universität Braunschweig
Prof. Dr Barbara Paul, Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg

Friday 24 April

Location: Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg, Hörsaalgebäude, A 14 1-111


9.00 – 11.00
Chair: Dr Katharina Hoffmann, Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg

Space in Military Discourses in Britain and Germany, 1900-1950
Dr Alaric Searle, University of Salford
The Symbolic Relevance of the Navy and the Sea in Britain and Germany, c. 1880-1918
Dr Jan Rueger, University of London
Submarines and U-Boat War in British Historiography
Prof Dr Eric Grove, University of Salford
Prof Dr Matthew Seligman, University of Northampton

11.00 Coffee Break

11.30 - 13.30
Chair: Dr Katharina Hoffmann, Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg

New Heroes: Pilots and Submariners
Dr René Schilling, Herford
Making the Lion Roar: The Kiel Canal in British Strategic Planning and Propaganda at the Beginning of World War II
Dr Christoph Laucht, University of Liverpool
Team and Machine (U-Boats/Submarines)
Prof Dr Herbert Mehrtens, Technische Universität Braunschweig
Dr Oskar Blumtritt, Deutsches Museum Munich

13.30 Lunch Break

15.00 – 16.30
Chair: Dr Lucy Noakes, University of Brighton

Achieving Masculine Identity within the Naval Aviation Community
Prof Dr Frank J. Barrett, Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California
Lack of Moral Fibre and Air Crews in the Second World War
Dr Nafsika Thalassis, University of Salford
Dr Gabriel Koureas, University of London

16.30 Tea Break

17.00 - 19.00
Chair: Dr Lucy Noakes, University of Brighton

Submarine Films: The Construction of Male and Female in Sound and Image
Prof Dr Linda Maria Koldau, University of Frankfurt
Recapturing Space, Technology and Gender Semantics - The Propagandistic Battle of Images during the Berlin-crisis
Silke Betscher, University of Liverpool
Security as a Myth in the Cold War? Transnational Images of European Arms Producers
Dr Stefanie van de Kerkhof, University of Bochum
Dr Paul Fox, University College London

Public Evening Lecture, Edith Ruß Haus für Medienkunst, Katharinenstr. 23
20.30 When Artists Have to Inform Politicians – An Artistic Intervention to Stop the Hamburg-based International Maritime Museum
Cornelia Sollfrank, Hamburg

Saturday 25 April

Location: Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg, Hörsaalgebäude, A 14 1-111


9.00 – 11.00
Chair: Dr Alaric Searle, University of Salford

Public Remembrance, Private Grief
Dr Gabriel Koureas, University of London
Interactions between "Popular Memory" and "Private Memory"
Dr Graham Dawson, University of Brighton
The Role of the Internet in Remembering the Two World Wars
Dr Dan Todman at Queen Mary and Westfield College, University of London
Prof Dr Karen Ellwanger, Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg

11.00 Coffee Break

11.30 - 13.30
Chair: Dr Alaric Searle, University of Salford

Aerial Bombardment, Cultural Anxiety and the Remembrance of Ruins
Dr Sue Malvern, University of Reading
Musealization of (U-Boat) Bunkers and Air Shelters
Nicole Mehring, Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg
Military Historical Collections as a Medium for Constructing and Interpretation of History within the German Air Force – The Example of the Traditionsgeschwader
Marc Hansen, University of Flensburg
Prof Dr Christine Sylvester, Lancaster University

13.30 Lunch Break

15.00 - 17.00
Chair: Prof Dr Silke Wenk, Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg

Memory Cultures in the German Air Force and Navy
Dr Katharina Hoffmann, Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg/ Ines Schöbel, Officer, German Air Force
Naval and Air Force Memorials in the United Kingdom: An Overview
Jane Furlong, Project Coordinator, UK National Inventory of War Memorials, IWM
British War Artists and Aviation
Rebecca Searle, University of Sussex
Prof Dr Jim Aulich, Manchester Metropolitan University

17.00 - 17.30
New Wars and Myths: Under War Condition. An Exhibition in Oldenburg and Dortmund in 2010
Sabine Himmelsbach, Artistic Director of the Edith Russ Site for Media Art/ Andreas Broeckmann, Artistic Director of the ISEA2010RUHR Festival

As seats for participants are limited, interested parties are asked to register before April 15th 2009 at Conference Fee: 20 €