Jahrbuch für Geschichte des ländlichen Raumes/Rural History Yearbook 15 (2018)

RHN 167/2018 | Publication

Jahrbuch für Geschichte des ländlichen Raumes/Rural History Yearbook 15 (2018): Landmedien. Kulturhistorische Perspektiven auf das Verhältnis von Medialität und Ruralität im 20. Jahrhundert

Editors: Clemens Zimmermann, Gunter Mahlerwein and Aline Maldener

Table of Contents and Abstracts:


Clemens Zimmermann/Gunter Mahlerwein/Aline Maldener
Landmedien und mediale Bilder von Ländlichkeit im 20. Jahrhundert

Kino, Publika und dörfliche Kommunikation

Judith Thissen
Kinogeschäft und Filmbesuch auf dem Land. Ein transnationaler Vergleich
This article examines the economics and socio-cultural dynamics of film exhibition and consumption in the European countryside from a transnational perspective with a particular focus on the Netherlands, (West-)Germany and France. After a brief discussion of cinema’s widespread perception as an urban entertainment medium, the author addresses the question ‘what exactly is a cinema?’ in order to challenge the one-dimensional narrative of traditional film historiography, which has largely overlooked the continued importance of travelling cinema beyond the era of the fairground shows. For the three countries under consideration, the key developments in rural and small-town film exhibition are discussed with a strong focus on commercial screenings in multifunctional venues. The study shows that important factors in shaping film culture in the countryside were the close interrelationship between cinema and other leisure-time activities, limited choice and lack of access to recent films, the rhythms of agriculture and the influence of church, as well as growing mobility and economic prosperity.

Lina Kaminskaitė-Jančorienė
Moving Pictures for Peasants. The Kinofikatsia of Rural Lithuania in the Stalinist Era (1944–1953)
This article explores the role of the cinema in the society of rural Lithuania during the Stalinist era. The core of this article is an empirical analysis of cinema practices such as exhibition places and distribution. During the Soviet period these practices were referred to as the process of Cinefication (Kinofikatsia). Cinefication not only was an integral element of the Soviet industrialisation but was part of a propaganda strategy. It demonstrated the technological power of the Soviet Union and used cinematic tools for an ideological indoctrination. Key research questions of this article are: What were the most essential features of the Cinefication? Did the process acquire distinctive aspects? Were the advantages of cinema utilised in the invaded area? The situation in Lithuania testifies to cultural politics and cinema politics in the rural periphery of the Soviet Union where inhabitants experienced film for the first time.

Clemens Zimmermann
Landkino im Saarland
The article explores the characteristics of rural cinema culture taking the dense cinematic landscape of the Saarland and the village of Wiesbach as an example. As far as primary sources allow, spatial contexts and audiences of cinema screenings will be investigated. It is discussed how the programs were adapted to the specific audience and their taste. The development of distribution networks that were adapted to the lower settlement density of the country, and the proximity of the large city of Saarbrücken, from where the films could quickly be transported to the rural communities, also helped the rural business. In general, attendances declined sharply since the 1960s, but the proportion of young people increased. For several years the rural cinema successfully adjusted to this, until the competition of metropolitan cinema and of television as well as increasing automobility largely forced it to give up. Altogether, from the 1920s to the 1960s, rural cinema contributed to the integration of villages and small towns into the national media landscape. It had a special programme structure, which was influenced by the respective cultural climate and local social control. The cinema building as a place of consumption and as a symbol for an advanced media world contributed to the development of urbanity in the country towns.

Katharina Thielen
Kommunikation im Dorf. Transformationsprozesse vom ausgehenden 19. Jahrhundert bis in die Gegenwart
Based on an empirical study on Westhofen, a village in Rhineland-Palatinate, the article begins with one of the village’s oldest inhabitants, who notices a decline in solidarity and interpersonal relationships in his hometown. This leads to the question of how communication in rural areas has changed from the late 19th century to the present. The focus of this study is the interdependencies between social structures and rural characteristics of communication. In order to reconstruct the terms and conditions of communication the author analyses structural features as well as the role of conversational partners and communication devices. Generally, personal face-to-face interaction played a significant role and was gradually complemented with new ways of written communication like postcards or letters. With the beginning of the so-called consumer society the use of media increasingly gained importance in everyday life. Simultaneously demographic changes, infrastructural improvements and technological innovations opened other, more extensive spaces, which gave the rural population the possibility to socialize in new areas. These changes effectuated an enormous expansion of communication structures whereas traditional communicative spaces like the neighbourhood and collective media-use gradually lost their importance – although they did not vanish completely.

Landmedien und ihre ‚agency‘: Demokratisierungs- und Politisierungspotentiale

Manuel Trummer
Making Bavaria. Zur medialen Governance des Ländlichen am Beispiel des BR Fernsehens
How does modern popular media affect rural change in Europe? What is the role of the modern media in the constitution of rural spaces? As an exemplary case study of the current programs of the Bavarian television (Bayerisches Fernsehen/BR) the paper deals with the representation and construction of rural spaces by means of agenda-driven audiovisual governance. Based on the hypothesis that the modern popular media is a key player in the diversification of rural spaces and rural cultural identities, the paper asks in which way TV (and other media) influences the perception of “ruralness” by shaping a distinctive visual cluster of images. Secondly, the text analyzes key elements of this new rural iconography which has re-emerged forcefully in television programs, magazines and popular culture in the 21st century. The reasons for this astounding re-vitalization of rural iconography are discussed against the background of Moscovici’s theory of social representations in order to ask about the consequences for everyday culture and rural politics.

Ulrich Schwarz-Gräber
Schriftverkehr zwischen „Landvolk“ und „Führung“. Ansätze einer Medien- und Kommunikationsgeschichte des NS-Regimes im Kontext ländlicher Gesellschaft
This article discusses difficulties in studying historical media audiences. While historical research on mass media under National Socialism has focused on the modernisation, the expansion and the propaganda effects of the available media, the question how ordinary people used and appropriated media messages remains widely unknown. This of course is mainly a problem of adequate sources. Inspired by Jerome Bourdon’s notion for a history of audiences based on sources ‘from the side’ and ‘from below’, this article examines petitions written by peasants and small-holders of an alpine valley and addressed to officials of the Nazi regime. Contrasted with the dominant agrarian weekly in this region, these letters show signs of appropriation of the messages and the language disseminated through the press. The petitioners borrowed and imitated the vocabulary of official propaganda, with the aim to gain support by the powerful or to raise complaints. In this special case, the newspaper readers become writers, and therefore these sources present a starting point for analysing audiences ‘from below’, as a group of active recipients – “textual poachers” (Henry Jenkins) – using the powerful resource of the dominant media for their own interests.

Vitus Sproten
„Widerspruchsvolles Durch- und Gegeneinander“. Mediengeschichte in ländlichen Zwischenräumen – das Beispiel Eupen-Malmedy (1920–1940)
The article deals with the question to what extent the concept of the “space in between-space” (Zwischenraum), developed by Philipp Ther, can be used to analyse rural media history. Ther argues that border regions are in the centre of exchange processes and not peripheral regions. As an example, the author of this article analyses the mass-media landscape (press, radio and cinema) of Eupen-Malmedy, a rural region at the Belgian-German border, between 1920 and 1940. The paper examines the role of small cities or towns, the influence of larger media centres on this region and the media production in this region will be analysed. The author argues that several aspects of rural media history need further attention in the future: the heterogeneous structure of rural media landscapes and audiences, the multidimensional influences on media reception in the rural space and the deconstruction of predefined strongly moulded regionalisms. To uncover this, the media resonance and distribution of the above-mentioned media will be studied.

Mediale Imaginationen und Konstruktionen ländlicher Räume und Milieus

Selina Hangartner
„Tonfilmbegabt und von Bergen umsäumt“. Zur Darstellung und Rezeption von Ländlichem in Der unsterbliche Lump (1930)
When Der unsterbliche Lump premiered in February 1930, critics and audiences perceived this as a further step in the establishment of sync-sound systems in cinema, primarily because of the initial use of exterior shooting in rural locations. These technological achievements seemed like a triumph in contemporary recollections, with critics being delighted with its supposedly authentic representation of the countryside. This article explores the ways ‘rurality’ is depicted by films and discussed in film journalism around 1930: In the retelling of the film’s shooting by the filmmakers themselves, the rural population appears to be stereotypic dull countrymen, allegedly unable to grasp the sheer superiority of the modernist machine. This perception meets its equivalent in the description of the rural cinema audience around 1930: In film journals like Der Kinematograph the rural audience is often described as being insufficiently media-savvy. The stereotyping representation of ‘rurality’ in the contemporary discourse apparently has not gone unnoticed: it has been spoofed by filmmakers themselves as early as August 1930, when the slapstick comedy Das Kabinett des Dr. Larifari depicted countrymen as even more naïve and dull as in the more serious depictions before.

Rolf Sachsse
Erkundungen auf dem Land. Marie Goslich als Bildjournalistin am Rande der Großstadt
Around 1900, Marie Goslich (1859–1938) was one of the earliest female photo reporters of her age. After 1905, she began to publish larger essays illustrated with her own photographs. Her publications were either descriptions of the social situation in the countryside near Berlin, helpful essays for Berlin housewives on new kitchen aids or female clothing in reform fashion. Thus, she can be considered as a part of the conservative feminism typical for the majority of the Berlin bourgeoisie under Emperor Wilhelm II. This includes her engagement in and the support by the Protestant church which becomes most evident in her work throughout World War I. Her subjects ranged from typical views of the urban spectator on rural practices like hay making, social reports on the situation of vagrant people to the introduction of modern communication media. With a strong emphasis on sports, nutrition, and health in general, her work represents the urban view on rural affairs. Marie Goslich’s photographs have to be recognised not only as very early representations of a female journalism but as photographs of their own quality in staging rural life at the borders of a big town. Marie Goslich could not cope with this quality in the 1920s, her life got lost in obscurity and ended in a Nazi mental hospital. Until 2005, her work has remained completely unknown.

Tristan Thielmann/Carmen Schulz/Michael Lommel
Das Fahrrad: Ein Medium der Landerschließung
At the end of the 19th century, the bicycle was a medium of land development, connection, sensing and routing. This article explores these features of the bicycle based on the League of American Wheelmen bulletins that were published between 1880 and 1902. The enquiry shows that the bicycle constitutes a rural geomedium since the first cyclists regarded themselves as land surveyors. Furthermore, the bicycle, as a vehicle that is connected to an individual, links the starting and end points of a route – without stops on the way and without changing vehicles. This continuity of movement is a highly essential property of the medium ‘bicycle’. Being awheel and making the countryside accessible cartographically are therefore closely linked to each other; they take place in one and the same procedure as part of the joint practice of land surveys. During this process, the bicycle proves to be an ideal instrument for the sensing of road surface conditions and therefore functions as a mediator between the road and the cyclist. It also serves as a mediator between urban and rural areas and as a connected device: The bicycle is the condition for cooperation for Bicycle Clubs, which enjoyed enormous popularity at the end of the 19th century. It facilitated the cooperative experiencing and exploring of the land that had yet not been documented cartographically and, in turn, yielded its own new form of representation: navigable maps in the form of route guides.

Christian Hißnauer
Das Idyll als Wiedergutmachung? Kritik und Verklärung der Provinz im bundesdeutschen Fernsehdokumentarismus der 1960er bis 1970er Jahre und die rurbane Landlust aktueller Produktionen
Today’s television documentaries often represent rural landscapes as ‘the place to be’: quaint villages – but modern rurban lifestyles. It seems as if they want to make lust for village life. Even picturesque hamlets are shown as traditional and modern at the same time. The picture of rural life drawn in the 1960s/1970s is much more skeptical. TV programs like Schützenfest in Bahnhofsnähe. Beobachtungen auf dem Dorfe (1961) by Dieter Ertel and Georg Friedel, Ödenwaldstetten by Peter Nestler or Im Norden das Meer / Im Westen der Fluß / Im Süden das Moor / Im Osten Vorurteile – Annäherung an eine norddeutsche Provinz (1977) by Klaus Wildenhahn portray the countryside of West-Germany more or less as provincial backwater. These films do not illustrate idyllic scenes but restorative tendencies, anti-modernism, conservatism, militarism and/or nationalism. Since the end of the 1970s such programs became less important due to political campaigns and the partial privatization of the West-German television market. So, today’s television documentaries are much more affirmative. In my paper I examine a range of different factual modes of rural landscape representation from the 1960s to the 2010s.

Résumé und Ausblick

Aline Maldener
Perspektiven und Potentiale historischer Landmedienforschung


Gunter Mahlerwein
Wie Woodstock aufs Land kam. Medienpraktiken einer ländlichen Jugendkultur der siebziger Jahre

Jessica Richter
Das österreichische Inlandarbeiterschutzgesetz von 1925 und die LandarbeiterInnen. Zur Organisation des nationalisierten Arbeitsmarkts

Languages: The article by Lina Kaminskaitė-Jančorienė is in English and all other articles are in German.


Editorial Board: Georg Fertig (Halle), Dietlind Hüchtker (Leipzig/Halle), Martin Knoll (Salzburg), Fridolin Krausmann (Vienna), Erich Landsteiner (Vienna), Ernst Langthaler (Linz/St. Pölten), Margareth Lanzinger (Vienna), Peter Moser (Bern), Markus Schermer (Innsbruck), Verena Winiwarter (Vienna)

Orders and review copies:StudienVerlag