RMeS Workshop Transmedia Memory: New Collisions between Media and Memory Studies

Workshop organized by Dr Rik Spanjers (UU), within the context of the RMeS PhD Workshop Grant

Date: Friday, June 11th 2021
Time: 13:00-17:00
Location: Online (ZOOM)
Open to: PhD’s and research master students, max 25 participants
Organizer: Dr. Rik Spanjers
Keynote Speakers: Prof. Dr. Astrid Erll & Dr. Dan Hassler-Forest
Register via the website.

Memory Studies has long recognized the importance of media in the production of cultural memory. Following the medial turn within memory studies in the 00’s, many scholars began researching the impact that specific media have on the remembrance of a host of different pasts. While memory researchers around the world were specializing in the relation of memory to the specificities of one or the other medium, however, the media landscape shifted, or, maybe more accurately, began to be seen by scholars in a different light.

Instead of being divided along the lines of different traditional media striving for their own specific perspective on the past, historical narratives are now often told by combinations of different media. Moreover, many of the media that were subjected to the scrutiny of scholars―comics, games, theatre, and mobile phone applications, for example―were shown to be unique more because of the ways in which they combined modes of representation than because they offered a uniquely specific perspective on the past. The impact of transmedia storytelling on societies’ remembrance of their past, however, remains a largely uncharted territory, even though the conscious application of transmedia storytelling strategies has become part of the repertoire of memory professionals.

In this workshop, we will draw on the perspectives of a Transmedia Storytelling and a Memory Studies specialist to investigate where and how these fields of study meet. Central questions to the proposed discussion are:

  • Can the interaction between media and memory be rethought—not along the lines of medium specificity, but alongside transmediality?
  • In what ways has the mediatization of memory always been, accidentally or consciously, transmedial?
  • In what ways and in what cases have memory institutions or professionals purposefully made use of transmedia storytelling strategies in their attempts to draw pasts into the present, and how does this relate to the increased use of cultural memory for nation/region and/or citybranding?

The workshop will consist of an online roundtable event and workshop. During the roundtable, Rik Spanjers will interview Astrid Erll and Dan Hassler-Forest. For the workshop, attendees are encouraged to bring in their own case studies in the field of transmedia memory to discuss with the experts.

The workshop is open to PhD’s and Research Masters Students. After enrollment, attendees are asked to do preparatory reading and to submit a case study for discussion during the workshop.

Prescribed reading:


  • Erll, Astrid. “Memory and Culture: A Semiotic Mode.” In: Memory in Culture. Palgrave: 2011, pp. 96-112.
  • Erll, Astrid. “Media and Memory.” In: Memory in Culture. Palgrave: 2011, pp. 113-143.
  • Hassler-Forest, Dan. “Imaginary Empires: Transmedia World-Building and Global Capitalism.” In: Science Fiction, Fantasy and Politics: Transmedia World-Building Beyond Capitalism. Pp. 1-21.


  • Erll, Astrid. “Cultural Memory Studies: An Introduction.” In: Cultural Memory Studies: An International and Interdisciplinary Handbook. Edited by Erll, A. Nunning, A.,  Walter de Gruyter: 2008, pp. 1-18 (optional for those unfamiliar with Memory Studies)
  • Ramsay, Debra. “World War II as a Transmedia Structure.” In: American Media and the Memory of World War II. Routledge: 2015, pp. 36-82.
  • Harvey, Colin B. “Introduction: Frames of Reference.” In: Fantastic Transmedia: Narrative, Play, and Memory Across Science Fiction and Fantasy Storyworlds. Palgrave: 2015, pp. 1-11.

Dr. Rik Spanjers

Rik Spanjers is a teacher at Utrecht University and the Applied University Saxion. His research focus is the representation of history in popular culture. Currently, Rik Spanjers is finalizing a book publication based on his PhD called Comics Modes of World War II Representation and editing Key Terms in Comics Studies with Erin La Cour and Simon Grennan. His future research investigates the transmedial representation of Operation Market Garden in Arnhem.

Prof. Dr. Astrid Erll

Astrid Erll is Professor of Anglophone Literatures and Cultures at Goethe-University Frankfurt. She has worked on German, British, South Asian, American, and South African literatures and media cultures. Her research interests include literary history (focus on 19th-21st centuries), media history (focus on film and photography), English and comparative literature, cultural theory, media theory, narratology, transcultural studies and – last not least – memory studies.

Dr. Dan Hassler-Forest

Dan Hassler-Forest works as Assistant Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at Utrecht University. He has published books and articles on superhero movies, comics, transmedia storytelling, adaptation studies, critical theory, and zombies. He is currently working on two book projects on Afrofuturism and racial capitalism.