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Steven Hoelscher, Chair Burdine 437, Mailcode B7100, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-7277

Fall 2003


Unique Days Time Location Instructor
26410 TTh
9:30 AM-11:00 AM
GAR 301

Course Description

"The past is never dead. It’s not even past." – William Faulkner This course explores how cultural memory is created and operates in the United States. For individuals and groups alike, memory forms an essential component of their social identity; by definition, it involves sharing, discussion, negotiation, and conflict. Cultural memory is produced in various forms—from memorials, public art, and commodities to popular culture, rituals, and museums—and is inevitably anchored in place. Museums and memorials, for example, have been historically built as official places of memory in prominent cities to communicate a sense of national history and citizenship. Yet, due to the distinct interests of diverse social groups, the pasts to be remembered in these locales are open to multiple interpretations. We will address those multiple interpretations—and ensuing conflicts—by canvassing a wide array of case studies that draw from literatures in American studies, geography, history, anthropology, media studies, and architecture.

Contains a substantial writing component and fulls part of the basic education requirement in writing.

Grading Policy

This course will be taught as a combination of lecture, discussion based on our readings, and fieldwork. As a seminar depends on informed discussions, students will be expected to attend class regularly, read all the materials before our meetings, and come to class prepared to participate. The course contains a substantial writing component; written work will include three 5-pages essays (20% of final grade each), and a take home final exam (20%). The remainder of the grade (20%) will be determined by each student’s in-class participation, which will include at least one oral presentation.


TENTATIVE READING LIST (a sampling of the kinds of materials we will read in this class) Marita Sturken, Tangled Memories: The Vietnam War, the AIDS Epidemic, and the Politics of Remembering. David Lowenthal, Possessed by the Past: The Heritage Crusade and the Spoils of History. Ken Foote, Shadowed Ground: America’s Landscapes of Violence and Tragedy. David Glassberg, Sense of History: The Place of the Past in American Life. Sanford Levinson, Written in Stone: Public Monuments in Changing Societies. Richard Flores, Remembering the Alamo: Memory, Modernity, and the Master Symbol. Mike Wallace, Mickey Mouse History and Other Essays on American Memory. David Blight, Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory. Hue-Tam Ho Tai, The Country of Memory: Remaking the Past in Last Socialist Vietnam. Edward Linenthal, The Unfinished Bombing: Oklahoma City in American Memory.


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