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Memory Studies (IL908)


Why has research across several disciplines turned to focus on memory? What might this mean for the future? The aims of this module are to explore memory studies from a variety of angles with a focus on cross-disciplinary perspectives. We encourage student engagement in seminars to allow you to develop the insights of memory studies in your own work as well as to learn from your peers in other subjects.


Outline Syllabus

Phase 1 – ‘Memory and Me’

Week 1: Introduction and module objectives (Prof. Alison Ribeiro de Menezes, School of Modern Languages and Cultures)
Why Memory Studies? Why now? Seminar focusing on memory and identity; famous sites of memory and students’ own contributions; guidance on choice of task written in the light of module teaching and assessment principles.

Week 1 Reading:

• Radstone, Susannah. “What Place is This? Transcultural Memory and the Locations of Memory Studies.” Parallax 17, no. 4 (2011): 109-23.

• Marianne Hirsch: ‘The Generation of Postmemory’, Poetics Today 29/1 (2008), 103-128

Week 2: Memory and Psychology (with Dr Elliott Ludvig, Psychology)

This session will consider the psychology and biology of memory. We will reflect on the fallibility and foibles of human memory, learn about the how the brain creates and recreates our recollections, plus consider the implications of multi-generational translation of memories as can occur through epigenetic mechanisms. The seminar will include a brief memory experiment to enhance student understanding of the issues addressed.

Week 3: Digital Memory and Mediating Life Story (with Dr Jo Garde-Hansen, Cultural & Media Policy Studies)
What is connective memory and how have digital networks, repositories, archives and recording devices facilitated an upsurge in remembering? This seminar will focus on the use of digital technologies for remembering, issues of privacy, security and personal identity, as well as concerns over the right to forget in a digital age. This seminar provides a bridge to Phase 2.

Week 3 Reading:

Jo Garde-Hansen, Anna Reading and Andrew Hoskins (eds), 'Introduction', in Save As….Digital Memories (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009)

You may also wish to consult:
Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age (Princeton: Princeton UP, 2011)

Phase 2 – ‘Memory, Heritage and Responsibility’

Week 4: Whose Memory/Whose History? (with a contribution from Prof. Mark Philp, History)
The seminar this week will focus on the intersections between the discipline of history and the rise of memory studies. Following a disucssion of the implications for historical research, we will engage with documents in the MRC in order to explore the overlaps between individual memory and wider historical and political events such as repression, persecution, exile and activism (examples from the Chile archive, but students can explore other holdings, e.g. the Amnesty International and Trade Union collections, depending on their interests).

Week 4 reading:

Kirwin Lee Klein, 'On the Emergence of Memory in Historical Discourse', Representations, 69/1 (2000)127-150.

Week 5: Field trip to Coventry
Walking tour of Coventry city centre, cathedral, and museums. The focus will be on the experience of history and heritage in (and their absences from) the urban landscape, as well as museum presentation of heritage. Students may use this, or other suitable heritage visits of their own as part of their written assessment.

Week 5 Suggested Background Preparation:

’Introduction’ in Present Pasts: Urban Palimpsests and the Politics of Memory (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2003)

Week 6: No class

Week 7: Memory and Creative Writing (with Prof. Maureen Freely, English and Comparative Literature, Warwick Writing Programme)
This interactive seminar will begin with short readings and discussions of creative pieces on the topic memory of trauma. Students will have the opportunity to discuss the advantages of a creative writing approach to legacy issues, and to explore the use of creative strategies in their own writing. This seminar provides a disciplinary contrast and bridge to Phase 3.


'Abel who was buried by a crow' (text provided).

Phase 3 – ‘Memory Goes Global’

Week 8: Responsibility in Transition (with Prof. A. Norrie, Law)
This week we will examine Transitional Justice mechanisms in the context of research on the intersections between law and the emotions that arise, especially around questions of guilt and their emotional and ethical legacies.


Primo Levi, The Drowned and the Saved (Abacus 2013) chs 1-3
Alan Norrie, Justice and the Slaughter Bench (Routledge 2017) ch 10

Week 9: Global Memory and The Museum of the Person (with Dr Jo Garde-Hansen, Cultural & Media Policy Studies) Should all collective and cultural memory be in institutions and for the benefit of nations? This seminar considers the new museum platforms that are connecting transnationally and personally to place new value on the individual. Using the case study of the Brazilian Museu da Pessoa, students will explore and practice social memory technology as a Latin American strategy for building, sharing and socializing memories.


Karen Worcman and Jo Garde-Hansen, 'Introduction', in Social Memory Technology: Theory Practice, Action (Routledge, 2016)

Week 10: Consultation and reflection on assessment pieces

Term 3, week 1: end-of-module symposium with student presentations and reflections on learning. Students will participate in a short symposium at which they reflect on the disiplinary and interdisciplinary insights gained through the module’s approach to study, as well as their own written response (choices of form, subject, shaping, and content).

Module convenor

Prof. Alison Ribeiro de Menezes
(Alison dot Menezes at warwick dot ac dot uk)


Term 2 (Spring) 2018-2019
Wednesdays 11.00-13.00


Humanities Studio


For 10 CATS:
1500 word essay/report/review of event, field trip or literature (75%)
15 minute Presentation (25%)

For 20 CATS:
3000 word essay/report/review of event, field trip or literature (75%)
15 minute Presentation (25%)

For 30 CATS:
4000 word essay/report/review of event, field trip or literature (75%)
15 minute Presentation (25%)