The concept of the 4th module is considered to be a reaction on the discussion by the editors of the Annales journal in the spring of 1988. Made with necessary simplification, it was a definition at the time of a field of work in which the “new history” could operate. As a result the attention of historians turned to new questions (objects), the linkpin of which was a culturally historically construed “representation” which encompassed the symbolic, ritual and sacral relationship of society and social layers to life and death, memory, faith, kinship structures and of course to social and power networks. History thus once more appeared in the vicinity of ethnology and sociology, by which it came full circle back to the study of mentalities, now however no longer construed as “only” the history of ideas. In the coordinates of historical knowledge set up this way, specific work methods were applied, based on anthropological models, sociological methods and in part vocabulary and linguistic or semantic analysis.
Major methodological innovations over the last three decades are best documented by the transformation of the “history of culture” into “cultural history”. Only in this framework was there a breakthrough in the boundaries of traditionally perceived political history, which changed into the history of power, its genesis, legitimisation, self-representation and representation by means of gesture, text, symbol, image or propaganda. The historical community rediscovered the meaning of reading and perception, redefined collective representation and social identity, began to study the history of power using collective and individual memory, thereby reviving recollections of Maurice Halbwachs, or began to notice places of memory, as Pierre Nora had defined them. The “new cultural history” is now respected as part of historical research, albeit sometimes with vague, but still comprehensible terminology and above all a clearly given methodology.
Image: Over the long term the image has formed an important element in the presentation of the
individual (often as a representative of power or as a representative of various kinds of social elite). As in the example of the early modern rule Louis XIV. This was pointed out by Peter Burke, when in his book The Fabrication of Louis XIV he pointed to the conflict between historians’ attempts during their interpretation of the personality of the French “Sun King” to search out a wide variety of details about his method of rule, life style and private life on the one hand, and the fact that the majority of his peers developed an idea of the ruler based on an “image” which was presented artificially to the public using the presentation methods of the day, very often with the help of the graphic arts.
Communication: Representation creates a whole series of communication links. These can for example be the communication between image and text, between the profane and sacral worlds, between the current presentation of a living person and the commemorative presentation of a deceased ancestor, between the current presentation of an historical figure or event and their “other life”. A whole series of similar communication links is to be found when studying cultural phenomena in history. One of their important positions is also formed by “places of memory”, by means of which the memory of an historical personality or event is retained, and which as a rule are regarded by contemporary historiography not only as places on a map, but also as places in human minds (Nora). Just as in the other examples and types of representation given here, typical for them is communication between a graphic work, more precisely an expressive medium intended for visual perception, and a linguistic one, usually a written text. At the same time the character of these links can vary significantly. A written text can serve as the basis for a work of graphic art, may be its secondary form, or a work of graphic art can be the basis for a written text, which by its nature may even stray away from the defined area of a cultural phenomenon.
Behaviour: In a world perceived as representation the question of behaviour is very often studied as a linking of a graphic or visual work with gesture, ritual, ceremonial or similar type of presentation (often established by custom or even normatively defined), conducted in time and space and very often intended for visual perception. This type of behaviour in the environment of cultural historiography is very precisely described and used mainly for the study of the Middle Ages and the early modern period, therefore all the more space for current research is to be assigned to research into the modern period and indeed even to contemporary history.
In the project being submitted, the 4th module, dedicated to representation and places of memory one may concentrate the said categories of image, communication and behaviour into three fundamental areas of study:
1) The representation of power: this problem area will be focused on the possibilities, forms and means of representation of the ruling elites (of the state) from the early Middle Ages up to the present. The research team will follow the forms of government in the period of the dukes and the royal period up to the end of the 13th century, the forms of public communication under the Luxemburgs and the image of the ruler in the later Middle Ages. Special emphasis will be put on the development of the ideal image of a sovereign during the Enlightenment, and also to the representation of the state, homeland and nation in the Czech Lands during the “long” 19th century and finally to ideas about the structure of society and state following 1918.
2) Collective representations: a subject of interest will be the various forms of collective representation and identity of social groups in the social and power changes from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. The team will focus its attention on problems of representation and commemoration and visualisation of memory of the lay and spiritual aristocracy in the Czech Lands in the Middle Ages and early modern period, as well as on the image and identity of social groups in the medieval and early modern town, and finally on the means and strategies for representation of smallholders and representatives of village administration and the village elites from the late Middle Ages up to the formation of the modern nation.
3) Places of memory: the issue of places of memory is construed in the context defined by Pierre Nora, Etienne François and Hagen Schulze. It therefore includes myths, symbols, events and items whose meaning changes over time and space.