(Re)constructing biographies: German television docudrama and the historical biography

Tobias Ebbrecht*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Television as public mediator of the past depicts various aesthetic and narrative strategies to communicate history. One major trend is the tendency to merge narrative forms from documentary and fiction to historical docudramas. ‘Hybridization’, ‘blurring boundaries’ and ‘porosity’ are frequently used terms to describe what happens when historical events are re-enacted on television. Television docudrama thereby has become one of the most important genres to represent history on the small screen. This tendency is closely related to a changing understanding of history, which is characteristic not only of the media but for historiography in general. The questioning of the narrative modes used to represent history has caused specific aesthetic reactions. The combination of documents, re-enactments and eyewitness testimonies are one result of significant methodological and epistemological shifts in historiography. Methods such as oral history as well as a change in the conception of memory towards more personal and fragmentary access to the past support changing attention granted to everyday life and ordinary people.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationTelevising History
Subtitle of host publicationMediating the Past in Postwar Europe
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9780230277205
ISBN (Print)9780230222083
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2010
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2010.


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