Mediating national history and personal catastrophe: Televising Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration
journal contributionposted on 15.12.2017, 14:20 by John Richardson
This article explores the rhetoric, and mass-mediation, of the national Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) commemoration ceremony, as broadcast on British television. Following the recommendation of the Stockholm International Forum (2000), since 2001, Britain has commemorated victims of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides on 27 January. The national commemoration has been broadcast on television five times: in 2001, 2002, 2005, 2015 and 2016. These programmes both reflect and illuminate the complex processes of (national) histories, individual memory and collective remembrance, and the ways that they mediate and interact with each other in social and historic contexts. I argue that these televised ceremonies orientate to four communicative meta-functions, the combination of which is particular to this media genre. They aim to simultaneously achieve four things: to Communicate History (‘what happened’); to Communicate Values (‘why we commemorate’); to Communicate Solemnity (‘how we commemorate’); and to Communicate Hope (‘that we are not defined by this catastrophic past’). In this article, I examine: the ways that these metafunctions are communicated through words, music and images; and some of the ways that these metafunctions can rhetorically derail, undermining their communication.
Funded by a Leverhulme Research Fellowship
- Social Sciences
- Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies