Does the war story have a special narrative structure? Can war be recounted as simply a story of triumph or of loss? What are the other possible story lines? What are some of the overarching themes? Which narrative strategies can be identified? What is the influence of performance, and of different media on the representation of war?
Every war has its own post-war working-out and representation, and a politics of memory and forgetting. Issues of guilt and responsibility can lead to denial and Schuldabwehr. The urge to normalize the situation can lead to a desire to put aside memories of war, and to effect closure on the past as a sealed and finished period.
What is the role of the war story and of the witness in processing the past and in legal restitution? What is the function of the search for shared narratives in post-conflict societies? Is such a shared narrative necessary, and if so, how might it be achieved? Can any patterns be identified in the stories of perpetrators and of victims? And how to reconcile in this context the tension between the desire to remember in order to achieve closure, and the desire not to remember so as not to open old wounds?
How does the personal story interact with collective forms of storytelling, whether by the state or by other interest groups? For example, how should we evaluate the substantial influence of war veterans on the national narrative of war? And how should we approach the narratives of collaborators – or those of their children?
As Jay Winter once asked rhetorically, ‘Does war belong in the museums?’ The museum is the site par excellence where conflicting war stories compete for recognition. How do museum war storylines materialize, and what has been the effect on those lines of recent historiographical insights? How has the narrative of war as represented in museums affected views of war at large held by the state, and by groups and individuals?
Do war stories alter in kind or form with new modes in the conduct of war in which friend and foe, front line and hinterland, are less clearly distinguished from each other, or where the enemy is hidden behind a drone? Do guerrilla warfare and jihad generate their own narratives?