Memory Essay #1: The Concept of Social Memory

As a ranking member of the “Society for Mnemonic Studies,” you have been selected to submit an article to a popular yet intellectually critical publication (The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Harper’s, The New York Times Magazine, etc.) in which you summarize the argument of an influential thinker in the study of memory. Choose one of the readings from Halbwachs, Connerton, or Fentress and Wickham. Summarize the argument of the essay in 4-6 pages, and use Misztal to put the argument into a historical context.

Audience: Intellectually curious yet skeptical consumers of middle- to high-brow culture

Format: 4-6 pages, MLA style


Type: Analyze a single text to support an arguable thesis.

Rationale: This assignment helps the students understand college-level texts and learn to articulate complex ideas. The Misztal reading provides a model for summary and paraphrase—he briefly summarizes and paraphrases, on a different scale, some of the work they are engaging for this assignment. While the students will not develop original theses (their theses should mirror the thesis of the text they choose), they must make compositional choices about how to present that information clearly and how to integrate contextual information into their presentation.

Pre-Draft Activities:

  1. Freewrite on a chosen text
  2. Identify and annotate a crucial passage
  3. Summary exercise
  4. Outline
  5. Freewrite on writing process and style

Memory_Essay1 (doc)

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