***NOTE: This syllabus was updated and revised in 2015. The aim of the revision was twofold: First, to reflect contemporary debates about memory; and second, to streamline the writing assignments. One of the key texts, Memory in the Twenty-First Century, ed. Sebastian Groes, will not be published until later in the fall of 2015. However, the Readings page contains possible substitutes for the readings drawn from that collection. If you’re interested in teaching this new version of the syllabus for the Fall 2015 semester, you can contact Jason Toguaw (firstname.lastname@example.org) for advice about which readings might make sense as substitutes.
** PRIOR to 2015:
Oftentimes, the “official” history of events and the personal recollection of those same events are quite different. Many times they diverge entirely. Yet neither can rightly be called the “true” or the “false” or even the “complete” version of events. How is this possible? In this writing seminar, we will investigate the processes by which societies and individuals codify their respective memories into the “official” narratives of events. Students will also explore the storytelling strategies employed by writers of autobiography and study the ways in which writers recall and reconstruct lived experiences. Throughout the semester, students will respond to various scientific, theoretical, literary and recorded “texts” and will produce their own original portfolio of writings in which they position themselves within and respond to the on-going debates concerning the ways in which personal memories interact with, and are shaped by, collective memory, and the importance of narratives to personal and national identity. Students will also have the opportunity to conduct original research in the form of a “field interview,” the goal of which is to assemble a series of personal 9/11 narratives and upload them, along with written transcripts and analyses, onto a web site that will serve as archive, memorial, and witness.
Pre-Draft Assignments, Activities:
Previous versions of the syllabus: