SOC 230
Memory and Forgetting Fall 2019
Division II

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On the surface, remembering generally confronts us as a deeply personal act. What is more private than nostalgic reverie or the secrets of a dark and painful past? Yet even “individual” memories take shape through social frameworks, and we also remember “collectively” through shared myths, narratives, traditions, and the like. This course will explore the social dimensions of memory and remembering as well as their inevitable counterpart–forgetting. How do social frameworks inform our individual understandings of the past and shape our sense of selfhood? How and why are figures from the past cast as heroes or villains? How do collectivities celebrate past glories, and how do they deal with shameful or embarrassing episodes? How do economic and political power relations shape struggles over the past? In an increasingly global society, can we speak of “cosmopolitan” or “transcultural” forms of memory? Topics will include self-identity, memoirs, and oral history; memorials, museums, and monuments; reputations, commemorations, and collective trauma; silence, denial, and forgetting; and transitional justice, official apologies, and reparations.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 19
Expected: 19
Class#: 1090
Grading: no pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: active class participation, four response papers (2 pages each), an autobiographical essay (4-5 pages), and a final research paper (8-10 pages) with class presentation
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: Anthropology and Sociology majors
Distributions: Division II

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