If the cap fits... evaluating twentieth century military re-enactment: education and commemoration - or playing soldiers?

Page, Andy (2011) If the cap fits... evaluating twentieth century military re-enactment: education and commemoration - or playing soldiers? MSc dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    Abstract

    Historical re-enactment is a popular form of heritage interpretation and entertainment, at formal museums and commercially organized events. Military re-enactment is prominent, as witnessed by event titles such as Blasts from the Past, The War and Peace Show and Military Odyssey. Anecdotal evidence that the activities of uniformed re-enactors have caused mixed reactions amongst some veterans prompted this appraisal of military re-enactment practice. ‘Educating the public’ and commemoration are commonly amongst the stated aims of military re-enactment groups but to what extent do they succeed, and how might this be measured?

    Drawing upon principles of heritage interpretation and communications theory, this dissertation constructs a theoretical model against which to measure the didactic and interpretive merits of a selection of case-study re-enactment displays triangulated by interview and questionnaire survey data. It is argued that whilst some highly effective professional and amateur interpretations exist, much of the amateur displays were found to be of poor standard when measured against the groups’ self-professed educative and commemorative criteria. Absence of narrative and focus upon artefacts suggest that the activity is largely about entertainment, in some cases of a dubious form, informed by a ‘war–pleasure culture’ (Dawson, 1994). Moreover, at the margin, claims of authenticity appear little more than a fig-leaf where seemingly gratuitous use of Nazi iconography is concerned.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Technology > School of Civil Engineering and Surveying
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 01 Feb 2012 11:58
    Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015 11:52
    URI: http://eprints.port.ac.uk/id/eprint/6061

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