Institute of Para-Enactment Research
Softcore Historicism and Embodied Heritage


Time warp 

The term “time warp” or “period rush” is commonly used by reenactment scholars (Agnew 2004; Horwitz 1998; Lamb 2008; Schneider 2011, Johnson  2016, Daugbjerg  2017) to define the sensation experienced by reenactors of perceiving themselves as actually being in the reenacted past.

Also called “period rush“, the reenactment moment”, “collapsing time” or “wargasm”, this experience has been described as “s one of the core objectives of performing a reenactment, “the idea being that if you immerse ourself deeply in the authentic, you will experience a momentary, transformative sensation” (Daugbjerg  2017).

Scholar Vanessa Agnew talks about  “an immediate, corporeal experience of the past “,   a “complete absorption in the reenacted event”that derives into a confusion or collapse of time. The experience of a period rush is connected with both the pursuit for autentithity and the quest for an escape of the contemporary ordinary world. Experiencing period rushes is nonetheless connected with an existencial autentithity and not with the search for an authentically reconstruction of the past, which has been criticized by historians as a potential problem when representing history.

The experience of a period rush is directly connected with the pursuit of immersive practices of dislocating the participants on para-enactments either physical or temporally.

The following excerpt opens up questions related with the agency of period rushes and has been written by Dira Apel on her 2012 book “War Culture and the Contest of Images”.

“Can even the visceral experience of the “period rush” be trusted as the authentic experience of soldiers in a different histori- cal moment? Is it possible to experience what a soldier thirty or fifty or ninety or one hundred and fifty years ago would have experienced in the same way, without the knowledge and experience of the modern world shaping that experience in the reenactor? How can the modern-day re- enactor escape the conscious awareness of the significance of the event, which makes it worth reenacting in the first place? Moreover, reenactors approach the hobby with a form of competitive aggression. One anec- dote relates that “at a reenactment of a battle on World War II’s Eastern Front, the competition got pretty rough—not between the Germans and the Russians, but between the authentics and the super-authentics. The latter group included a West Point professor who awed his associates by producing, at the appropriate moment, a packet of Nazi toilet paper.” 

︎︎︎Apel, Dora. War Culture and the Contest of Images. Rutgers University Press, 2012. http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5hhwpv.

︎︎︎Petersson, Bodil and Holtorf , Cornelius (eds.), The Archaeology of Time Travel. Experiencing the Past in the 21st Century. Oxford: Archaeopress Archaeology, 2017) online at http://www.archaeopress.com/ArchaeopressShop/Public/download.asp?id={9B3CA03F-F66D-4F69-8158-B19208AA137F [05.05.2020];

︎︎︎Anderson, Jay. Time Machines. The World of Living History. Nashville, Tenn.: American Association for State and Local History, 1984).

︎︎︎ Berlin, 2022

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