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7AAICC40 Cultural Memory

Module convenor: Dr Red ChidgeyDr Jessica Rapson
Teaching pattern: Ten one-hour lectures and ten one-hour seminars
Module description:

All forms of media and cultural production spring from existing memories and contribute to the formation of new ones; representations of the past are a fundamental shaping force throughout the cultural and creative industries and the museums and heritage sector. Cultural memories may concern the past, but they shape our present and future. Crucially, we do not remember alone; our memories are socially and culturally mediated. In an increasingly globalised world hallmarked by unprecedented media coverage, processes of collective remembrance are shaped by national polemics, social movements, institutional gate-keepers and new technologies.

This module introduces students to the dynamic and fast-evolving field of cultural memory. Students will consider cultural memory theories and practices across a range of international locations and cultural forms, including museums, media sites, landscapes and artefacts. We will examine how cultural memory is produced, disseminated and secured, and the political contours of its transmission. Throughout the module students will build a strong repertoire of analytical skills for understanding the importance of cultural memory in present times, including how memories travel across national borders in a global context, the contested nature of shared memory, and how the ‘memory boom’ of recent decades has become a strong commercial trade and a new field of academic inquiry.

Students are encouraged to produce their own creative and cultural works, on which they may be assessed alongside their academic writing.

Students should note that the discipline of Memory Studies has largely emerged within and from the Western scholarly context, particularly in the wake of World War II and the Holocaust. The readings and subjects covered on this course are broadly representative of the field, but we actively include examples from all over the world in our discussions and encourage students to do the same.

Draft teaching syllabus

Part I

Week 1: Cultural Memory: Concepts, Theories and Definitions
Week 2: Re-Mediation and Mediated Memory
Week 3: New Memory Forms? Digital and Networked Memory
Week 4: Transcultural, Multidirectional and Cosmopolitan Memory
Week 5: Memory and Mass Culture

Part II

Week 6: The Cultural Politics of Nostalgia
Week 7: Museums and Memory
Week 8: Commemoration and Landscapes of Memory 
Week 9: Memory and Creative Practice
Week 10: Course Conclusion and Assessment Workshop

Module aims

The aim of this module will be to introduce students to the contested nature of shared memory and to equip them with an advanced theoretical framework for understanding the ‘memory boom’ of recent decades.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students will be able to demonstrate intellectual, transferable and practical skills appropriate to a Level 7 module and in particular will be able to:

  • Evaluate different perspectives on the political, cultural, economic and ethical role of cultural memory
  • Assess various claims to the past made in different contexts and their impact on contemporary formations
  • Reflect critically on the ways in which cultural memory is shaped by changing technologies
  • Demonstrate an understanding of different theorisations of collective memory including remediation, transcultural, multidirectional and cosmopolitan memory
  • Approach cultural memory studies in innovative and creative ways, including being able to produce their own memory texts through a range of media

Core reading

  • Bond, L. and J. Rapson (eds) (2014) The Transcultural Turn: Interrogating Memory Between and Beyond Borders (Berlin: de Gruyter)
  • Erll, A. (2011) Memory in Culture (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan)
  • Erll, A. and Rigney, A. (eds) (2012) Mediation, Remediation, and the Dynamics of Cultural Memory (Berlin: de Gruyter)
  • Garde-Hansen, J. (2011) Media and Memory (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press)
  • Garde-Hansen, J., A. Hoskins and A. Reading (eds) (2009) Save As.... Digital Memories. (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan) 
  • Neiger, M., O. Meyers and E. Zandberg (eds) (2011) On Media Memory: Collective Memory in a New Media Age (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan)
  • Plate, L. and Smelik, A. (eds) (2013) Performing Memory in Art and Popular Culture (New York: Routledge)
  • Rothberg, M. (2009) Multidirectional Memory: Remembering the Holocaust in the Age of Decolonization (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press)


1 x 4,000 word essay (100%) OR 1 x creation of a memory text (e.g. short film, blog, poster, artwork, photographs) and 2,000 word critical commentary (100%)

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

 The modules run in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand so there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary depending between years.

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