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Level 6

6AAHCF02 No More Heroes? Critical Perspectives on Commemoration

Credit value: 15
Module convenor/tutor (2019/20): Dr Anna Maerker
Teaching pattern: 10 x 2-hour seminars
Availability: Please check module list
Assessment: Media profile of commemorative project (15%), 1,000 word review of commemorative object or activity (15%), 3,000 word reflective essay on commemoration plan (70%)

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

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

Should we celebrate and commemorate individuals’ contributions to history? Recent controversies such as the “Rhodes must fall” campaign in the U.K. and debates surrounding confederate statues in the U.S. highlight the problematic nature of public memory in relation to historic individuals and events. Changing attitudes leave past heroes problematic in the present; academic historians challenge the very idea of history as shaped by the actions of “great men”. This Opportunity Module will allow students to develop informed, critical perspectives on commemoration in public life, drawing on scholarship from history, memory studies, art history, and related disciplines. Students will apply their understanding of this literature to practical case studies involving memorials and commemorative projects in London, and build up a small portfolio of tasks towards the planning of a commemorative project.

Indicative weekly topics

  1. Hagiography and biography
  2. Individuals and historical change
  3. Practices of commemoration in private and public life
  4. The art of public memory
  5. Mapping commemoration at King’s
  6. Commemoration and war
  7. Controversies
  8. Preparing a media profile
  9. Whose memory? The decision-making process

Suggested introductory reading

Cohen, Paul A., History and Popular Memory: the power of story in moments of crisis (2014)

Hoock, Holger, Empires of the imagination: politics, war and the arts in the British world, 1750-1850 (2010)

Macdonald, Sharon, Memorylands: heritage and identity in Europe today (2013)
Maerker, Anna, Sleight, Simon, Sutcliffe, Adam (eds.), History, Memory and Public Life (2018)

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