Framing Public Memory
Publication Year: 2004
A collection of essays by prominent scholars from many disciplines on the construction of public memories.
The study of public memory has grown rapidly across numerous disciplines in recent years, among them American studies, history, philosophy, sociology, architecture, and communications. As scholars probe acts of collective remembrance, they have shed light on the cultural processes of memory. Essays contained in this volume address issues such as the scope of public memory, the ways we forget, the relationship between politics and memory, and the material practices of memory.
Stephen Browne's contribution studies the alternative to memory erasure, silence, and forgetting as posited by Hannah Arendt in her classic Eichmann in Jerusalem. Rosa Eberly writes about the Texas tower shootings of 1966, memories of which have been minimized by local officials. Charles Morris examines public reactions to Larry Kramer's declaration that
Abraham Lincoln was homosexual, horrifying the guardians of Lincoln's
public memory. And Barbie Zelizer considers the impact on public memory
of visual images, specifically still photographs of individuals about to perish (e.g., people falling from the World Trade Center) and the sense of communal loss they manifest.
Whether addressing the transitory and mutable nature of collective memories over time or the ways various groups maintain, engender, or resist those memories, this work constitutes a major contribution to our understanding of how public memory has been and might continue to be framed.
Published by: The University of Alabama Press
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“Public memory” has become a familiar key term in the humanities and social sciences. The last twenty years have seen a rapid proliferation of the term’s use in such disciplines as architecture, communication studies, English, history, philosophy, political science, religion, rhetoric, and sociology. The rapid growth in the transdisciplinary study of public memory...
PART I. THE MEMORY OF PUBLICS
1. Public Memory in Place and Time
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Despite its monolithic resonance, “public memory” is not just one kind of thing. Different itself from other basic forms of remembering, it occurs in several distinctive ways. Let me begin by mentioning some of these ways in relation to a single fundamental trait, proceed to discuss other kinds of memory, and then return to public memory for closer analysis....
2. Arendt, Eichmann, and the Politics of Remembrance
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On May 11, 1960, Karl Adolph Eichmann, former traveling salesman and chief executioner of the Final Solution, was seized by special forces in a suburb of Buenos Aires. From there he was flown under cover to Israel to face fifteen counts of “crimes against the Jewish people, crimes against humanity, and war crimes during the whole period of the Nazi regime and...
3. “Everywhere You Go, It’s There”: Forgetting and Remembering the University of Texas Tower Shootings
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Sayles’s claim that certain memories should be forgotten as well as his distinction between individual and collective memories provide a regional context for understanding some of the different ways the 1966 shootings at the University of Texas at Austin have been remembered and why, arguably, some people and institutions might prefer that they be forgotten....
4. My Old Kentucky Homo: Lincoln and the Politics of Queer Public Memory
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Nearly vanquished by the ravages of AIDS, National Book Award winner Paul Monette somehow mustered the requisite fortitude for his last sojourn to the nation’s capital, so that he might join his brethren in April 1993 for their March on Washington. Too debilitated to participate fully, he garnered energy enough to fulfill those personal and political obligations...
5. Shadings of Regret: America and Germany
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Never before have American leaders and officials apologized for so many things. Shortly after President Ronald Reagan expressed remorse over the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, Americans observed the five-hundredth anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s voyage to the New World by acknowledging his atrocities against its native...
PART II. THE PUBLICNESS OF MEMORY
6. The Appearance of Public Memory
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In this essay I address public memory as it both shapes and is shaped by our attempts to address it. I shall advance three claims. (1) Public memory (or “memorial life”) is best approached not in terms of a subject-object structure but rather as nonsubjective enactment in and as such things as institutions, practices, and discourses. (2) Insofar as what is public appears...
7. The Voice of the Visual in Memory
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For as long as collective memory has been an area of scholarly concern, the precise role of images as its vehicle has been asserted rather than explicated. This essay addresses the role of images in collective memory. Motivated by circumstances in which images, rather than words, emerge as the preferred way to establish and maintain shared knowledge from...
8. “A Timeless Now”: Memory and Repetition
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Thus begins Quentin Compson’s narrative in William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, a literary masterpiece whose true subject, more than any particular character, may be the poignant influence of memory on the experiences of its various narrators. Faulkner’s story comprises four sections, each with a different narrator, relating the events of four different...
9. Renovating the National Imaginary: A Prolegomenon on Contemporary Paregoric Rhetoric
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This essay is about the body, the construction of a corpus, and contemporary U.S. nation building. Specifically, it is an inquiry into the way in which the body is being conscripted and a certain event rescripted so as to newly mission, “[W]e want a memorial but not on that particular spot.”8 Given that six other sites had been considered for placement of the memorial (the Capitol Reflecting Pool area, the Tidal Basin, West Potomac Park, the...
10. Framing Memory through Eulogy: Ronald Reagan’s Long Good-bye
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On August 12, 1996, Nancy Reagan, the former First Lady, gave tribute to her husband during the Republican National Convention in San Diego. Mrs. Reagan spoke briefly but poignantly following a videotape viewing dedicated to the former president. Her short tribute brought tears tomany in the convention hall. At the conclusion of her presentation she...
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Publication Year: 2004