Performative Histories, Foundational Fictions (Studia Fennica #7) (Paperback)
Films are essential to national imagination and promotional publicity markets "domestic films" not only as entertaining, exciting, or moving, but also as topical and relevant in different ways. When assessing new films, reviewers make reference to other films and cultural products as well as social and political issues. Through such interpretive framings by contemporary and later generations, popular cinema is embedded in both national imagination and endless intertextual and intermedial frameworks. Moreover, films themselves become symbols which are cited and recycled as illustrations of cultural, social, and political history as well as national mentality. In Performative Histories, Foundational Fictions, Anu Koivunen analyzes the historicity as well as the intertextuality and intermediality of film reception as she focuses on a cycle of Finnish family melodrama and its key role in thinking about gender, sexuality, nation, and history. Close-reading posters, advertisements, publicity-stills, trailers, review journalism, and critical commentary, she demonstrates how The Women of Niskavuori (1938 and 1958), Loviisa (1946), Heta Niskavuori (1952), Aarne Niskavuori (1954), Niskavuori Fights (1957), and Niskavuori (1984) have served as sites for imagining "our agrarian past", our Heimat and heritage as well as "the strong Finnish woman" or "the weak man in crisis". Based on extensive empirical research, Koivunen argues that the Niskavuori films have inspired readings in terms of history and memory, feminist nationalism and men's movement, left-wing allegories and right-wing morality as well as realism and melodrama. Through processes of citation, repetition, and re-cycling the films have acquired not only a heterogeneous and contradictory interpretive legacy, but also significant affective force.