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A digital Jewish history?

Abstract

How can we teach Jewish history in a modern and effective way? In Hamburg, Germany, a school project called Geschichtomat tries to find an answer to that question. With the help of digital media, students explore their Jewish neighbourhood. This one-of-a-kind German program permits students to experience the Jewish past and present life in their hometown. During the project, students explore their neighbourhood to understand its historical figures, places, and events. This way they engage with Jewish life. Under the supervision of experts in the disciplines of history and media education, the students will: research, perform interviews with cultural authorities and contemporary witnesses, visit museums and archives, shoot and cut films, edit photos and write accompanying texts. Finally, their contributions are uploaded to the geschichtomat.de website. Little by little a digital map of Jewish life from the perspective of teenagers will take shape.

Open access
From the Concept to the Practice of Parliamentary Immunity

Abstract

Scholars have long debated the normative rationality, the temporal and legal aspects, and finally the limits and modern practices of parliamentary immunity. Therefore, this study does not insist on these classical interpretations anymore, but seeks to contribute to a comprehensive understanding of the conceptual history of parliamentary immunity. Embracing two schools of thought, the Koselleckian interpretation and the Skinnerian variant, this paper aims to establish and clarify in detail the story of the concept of parliamentary immunity in order to elucidate, in a Socratic fashion, what we really mean when we say that a senator or a deputy benefits from legislative immunity. This inquiry will help us emphasise how this concept leaves behind its abstract notion and becomes an institution with strict rules and practices. In addition, considering the importance of this concept in the modern legislative and rhetoric histories and the frequency with which it is used, this study will question the meanings of parliamentary immunity in the light of different historical settings and will eventually trace out a single, coherent, and unified conceptual matrix. My contention is that once parliamentary immunity – seen as a conceptual construct only adjusting the balance of power between the executive and the legislative powers – becomes an institution with strong practices, it enforces the parliament as a unified and independent body and creates the prerequisite conditions for the democratic development.

Open access
Pirate Television Stations in the Years 1990-1994

Abstract

The history of pirate, illegal television stations in Poland is presented here against the broader background of systemic transformations (both political and legal). According to the author of the article, it was an inevitable phenomenon, closely linked to the creation of the foundations of a democratic, lawful state with free-market economy. They were a factor which enforced acceleration of political change, legislative works and affected the change of the programming offer. Although pirate television stations were a short-lived phenomenon, they had huge impact on the later development of electronic media in Poland.

Open access
Digital artefacts to change the teacher’s practices

Abstract

The change imposed by the diffusion of information and communications technology concerns didactic transposition practices, especially in the context of ‘public subjects’, such as taught history, because their epistemological paradigms are also affected by the mediatization process which they are subjected to in the Web.

Digital competence is essential for building a meaningful curriculum of history, which could generate relevant knowledge for the contemporary world through digital artefacts that can start the change in didactic practices.

The traditional analogical supports, primarily the text books, could be overtaken by the aggregation of technological mediators. The digital mediators can make historical culture both evident and significant, and they can support the intellectual training that history asks of students.

Open access
Holocaust Representation and Graphical Strangeness in Art Spiegelman’s Maus: A Survivor’s Tale: “Funny Animals,” Constellations, and Traumatic Memory

Abstract

Art Spiegelman’s MAUS, a Pulitzer-prize-winning two-volume graphic novel, zooms into wartime Poland, interweaving young Vladek’s – the author’s father – experiences of World War II and the present day through uncanny visual and verbal representational strategies characteristic of the comics medium. “I’m literally giving a form to my father’s words and narrative”, Spiegelman remarks on MAUS, “and that form for me has to do with panel size, panel rhythms, and visual structures of the page”. The risky artistic strategies and the “strangeness” of its form, to use Harold Bloom’s term, are essential to how the author represents the horrors of the Holocaust: by means of anthropomorphic caricatures and stereotypes depicting Germans as cats, Jewish people as mice, Poles as pigs, and so on. Readings of MAUS often focus on the cultural connotations in the context of postmodernism and in the Holocaust literature tradition, diminishing the importance of its hybrid narrative form in portraying honest, even devastating events. Using this idea as a point of departure, along with a theoretical approach to traumatic memory and the oppressed survivor’s story, I will cover three main topics: the “bleeding” and re-building of history, in an excruciating obsession to save his father’s – a survivor of Auschwitz – story for posterity and to mend their alienating relationship and inability to relate; the connection between past and present, the traumatic subject, and the vulnerability it assumes in drawing and writing about life during the Holocaust as well as the unusual visual and narrative structure of the text. The key element of my study, as I analyse a range of sections of the book, focuses on the profound and astonishing strangeness of the work itself, which consequently assured MAUS a canonical status in the comics’ tradition.

Open access