Communicating Memory & History

by Nicole Maurantonio (Volume editor) David W. Park (Volume editor)
©2019 Textbook XII, 282 Pages


Communicating Memory & History takes as its mission the job of giving communication history its full due in the study of memory. Taking three keywords—communication, history, and memory—representing related, albeit at times hostile, fields of inquiry as its point of departure, this book asks how the interdisciplinary field of memory studies can be productively expanded through the work of communication historians. Across the chapters of this book, contributors employ methods ranging from textual analysis to reception studies to prompt larger questions about how the past can be alternately understood, contested, and circulated.
Communicating Memory & History is ideal for teaching, including case studies that elaborate different ways to approach issues in memory studies. While some foundational knowledge would be useful, it is possible to use the text without extensive knowledge of the literature. This book is of particular interest to professors, graduate students, and advanced undergraduate students of communication and media studies, as well as scholars and students in cultural studies, history, and sociology—disciplines where one finds steady consideration of issues related to communication, communication history, and memory.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • Advance Praise for Communicating Memory & History
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Figures
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: Remembering Communication History (Nicole Maurantonio / David W. Park)
  • On Communication History and Memory
  • A History of This Book
  • Overview: Communicating Memory & History
  • Space & Time
  • Narrative
  • Materiality & Embodiment
  • Audience
  • Notes
  • Section I: Communicating Space & Time
  • Notes
  • 1. Interscalarity and the Memory Spectrum (Emily Keightley / Michael Pickering / Pawas Bisht)
  • Introduction
  • Developing Conceptual Capacity
  • Developing Methodological Capacity
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • 2. Archiving ISIS: Metastasized Archives, Lieux de Futur, and Endless War (Piotr M. Szpunar)
  • The Clarion Project and Its Enemy
  • Archives and Archival War
  • The Metastasized Archive
  • Conclusion: Toward Lieux de Futur
  • Notes
  • Section II: Narrative
  • Notes
  • 3. Remarkable Coincidence: A True Story of the Liberty Bell’s Myth (Deborah Lubken)
  • Bell Biographies
  • Singular Enough
  • Accommodating the Crack
  • Notes
  • 4. Mass Media as Memory Agents: A Theoretical and Empirical Contribution to Collective Memory Research (Michael Meyen)
  • Scope
  • Collective Memory, Mass Media, and the Example of the GDR
  • Research Design
  • Results I: GDR in German Mass Media
  • Results II: GDR in Germany’s Communicative Memory
  • Results III: Typology of GDR Narratives in Germany
  • The Accuser
  • The Nostalgic
  • The Contemplator
  • The Utopian
  • The Romantic
  • The Basher
  • The Serene
  • The Balanced
  • Influencing Factors
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • 5. Mnemonic Newswork: Exploring the Role of Journalism in the Rereading of National Pasts (Oren Meyers)
  • Journalism, Memory, and the “New Historiography” Debate
  • Israeli Journalism: An Overview
  • “New Historiography” and the Shaping of Israeli Collective Memory
  • Journalism and the Rereading of the National Past: Four Research Trajectories
  • Shaping the Popular Representation of the Academic Debate
  • The Academic Use of Journalistic Coverage
  • The Journalistic Construction and Deconstruction of National Memory Narratives
  • The Construction of Journalistic Communal Memory Narratives
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Section III: Embodiment & Materiality
  • Notes
  • 6. Badna Naaref (We Want to Know): The Politics of Movement and Memory in “Postwar” Beirut (Erin E. Cory)
  • On the Persistent Space-Time of Conflict: Historical Context
  • Embodied, Moveable Memory: Connecting the Literature on Memory and Geography
  • Methods: On Movement(s) and Locating the Repertoire
  • Looking Outward: NGO Memory Work in Lebanon
  • Enough Waiting: November 1, 2012
  • Current Work
  • Final Thoughts
  • Notes
  • 7. “Taking Back” a Post-Conflict City: Tourism, Anniversary Memory, and the New Histories of Belfast (Carolyn Kitch)
  • The Material City: Touring Sectarian Art and Memorials
  • The Fantastic City: Reimagining Other Dark Tales
  • “Take Back the City”: Remaking the Urban Center
  • Conclusion: More Than Two Tales of a City
  • Notes
  • 8. Presence and Absence: The Berlin Wall as Strategic Platform (Samantha Oliver)
  • Commemorative Events as Strategic Platforms
  • The Berlin Wall as Strategic Platform
  • Strategic Narratives of the 25th Anniversary Celebrations
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • 9. Building an Archive for Future Generations: Archival Digitization at the National Library of Israel (Sharon Ringel)
  • On Memory, Time, & Space
  • The Nation Library of Israel (NLI)
  • Method
  • Analysis and Discussion
  • Digitization for Centralization of Knowledge
  • “Preservation Consciousness”
  • The Physical and the Digital Copy
  • Concluding Comments
  • Notes
  • Section IV: Audience
  • Notes
  • 10. Digital Post-Scarcity Versus Default Amnesia: Russian Political Existence and the Online Resurrection of Memories of the Dead at the Nord-Ost Theatre Siege (Amanda Lagerkvist / Katerina Linden)
  • Introduction
  • Media and Memory in Transition: Toward an Existential Approach
  • Materials and Methods
  • Mediations of a Tragedy: The Nord-Ost Siege
  • Multilayered Commemoration: From Monument to Social Network Memory
  • Forms of Commemoration and Forgetting in Digital Existence
  • In Conclusion
  • Notes
  • 11. Reclaiming Identity: GDR Lifeworld Memories in Digital Public Spheres (Manuel Menke / Ekaterina Kalinina)
  • Introduction
  • How to Remember the GDR? Conflicting Narratives in Reunified Germany
  • Official History vs. Ostalgie: Tracing the Discourse About the GDR Past
  • Communicating GDR Lifeworld Memories in Digital Public Spheres
  • Research Questions, Study Design, and Method
  • The Exercise of Power
  • The GDR Remembered Online
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Postscript: Once A Margin, Always A Margin (Barbie Zelizer)
  • On Margins and Knowledge Formation
  • Communication in the Service of Memory and History
  • Space/Time
  • Narrative
  • Embodiment/Materiality
  • Audience
  • Margins, Centers, or Something In-Between?
  • Rethinking Margins
  • Notes
  • Contributors
  • Index

| vii →


Figure 4.1: Typology of GDR memories in Germany

Figure 5.1: 1994 Yedioth Aharonoth interview with Benny Morris

Figure 5.2: 1994 Yedioth Aharonoth interview with Anita Shapira

Figure 5.3: Number of items mentioning “new historians” and “Israel,” by year

Figure 5.4: Yedioth Aharonoth, 1968

Figure 5.5: Ma’ariv, 1968

Figure 6.1: Protesters outside the National Museum

Figure 6.2: Map of protest route, distributed at Enough Waiting event

Figure 6.3: Survivors hold family photographs outside the Anglo-American Cemetery in Tahwita

Figure 6.4: A man photographs the portraits of the missing and disappeared, reproduced as a poster for an NGO exhibition

Figure 6.5: Enough Waiting canvas petition, later signed by protesters

| ix →


This volume is the result of collaborative work between the editors and the contributors. Behind the scenes one also finds numerous others whose assistance was necessary to the volume you are now reading.

The volume’s origins can be traced to a pre-conference held during the 2014 annual meeting of the International Communication Association (ICA). This pre-conference, titled “Making Sense of Memory and History,” would not have been possible without the assistance of Michael Haley and Jennifer Le at ICA. Rick Popp was then chair of the ICA Communication History Division, and his enthusiasm and support were integral components of this pre-conference experience. The pre-conference took place at Seattle’s Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI), where Christine Kolodge worked out local arrangements.

Working with Peter Lang Press has been a most pleasant experience, in large part thanks to the editorial work of Kat Harrison, whose support for this volume has been most appreciated. Mike Doub, Luke McCord, and Jackie Pavlovic at Peter Lang performed essential work for the volume’s completion. It is great to work with this team.

Our contributors are extraordinarily generous scholars, whom we thank heartily for agreeing to be part of this project and for working with us.

Nicole would like to offer her thanks to Virginia Humanities for supporting her sabbatical, as well as colleagues at the University of Richmond in the department of Rhetoric & Communication Studies, the American Studies program, and those involved with the Race & Racism at the University of Richmond Project. Nicole also thanks her husband, Justin, for his constant encouragement.

Dave would like to tip his hat to his colleagues in the Department of Communication at Lake Forest College: Liz Benacka, Linda Horwitz, Rachel Whidden, and Camille Yale. Their colleagueship helped this book along the way more than they could know. Dave also thanks his wife Sarah, who always knows what’s up.

| 1 →

Introduction: Remembering Communication History


On August 11 and August 12, 2017, white supremacists convened in Charlottesville, Virginia under the guise of a “Unite the Right” rally, attracting neo-Nazis and members of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) to the University of Virginia and Downtown Mall less than a mile from campus. The rally’s stated purpose was to protest the removal of a monument to Confederate General Robert E. Lee as well as the removal of Confederate monuments across the United States. The ensuing violence, enacting racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, and other forms of hatred, culminated in the death of one counter-protester, Heather Heyer, and the wounding of several others. Like many, both near to and far from Charlottesville, we bore witness to the graphic photographs and streaming videos of the violence on television and on the internet.

While the ability to bear witness to the violence in Charlottesville as it unfolded—and re-watch it afterward—is a reality of the 21st century media landscape, one of the most profoundly disturbing facets of the violence in Charlottesville was its familiarity. The scene in Charlottesville was resonant. News reports recounted, “the weekend’s events [featuring Nazi sympathizers] [were] particularly wrenching in Germany, a nation still seared by the darkest chapters of its past.”1 In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took to Twitter to remark, “We know Canada isn’t immune to racist violence & hate. …”2 For some in the United States, the images evoked memories of violence sparked during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. The images of predominantly young, angry white men holding tiki torches on Thomas Jefferson’s Lawn outside the iconic Rotunda evoked historic images of the KKK, an organization many (whites) assumed was a vestige of the past. Yet, as the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) reminds us, there are more ← 1 | 2 → than 900 hate groups currently operating in the United States.3 Organizations ideologically rooted in prejudices are not only present but vibrant. To apply an apposite truism: the past is prologue.4

It would be easy to pause on the events in Charlottesville as a moment of terror and tragedy suspended in isolation, yet the hatred that spurred the violence in Charlottesville was not new, nor was it unique. Similar violence unfolds daily across the world. It might just not be as visible, as highly mediated. In the weeks following the violence, editorials and op-eds flooded news organizations worldwide from trained historians, cultural critics, and members of the public. While many expressed profound sympathy for the families of the victims and shock at the sight of Klansmen operating out in the open—German Chancellor Angela Merkel dubbed the scenes “absolutely repulsive—naked racism, antisemitism and hate in their most evil form”5—the outpouring of commentary, across platform and the political spectrum, placed into sharp relief the very unresolved nature of the past.

What we had borne witness to was a violent collision between history and memory—between a history of white supremacy and a collective memory that denies this past, embracing in its stead so-called Lost Cause narratives of happy, faithful slaves, and a benevolent institution (slavery) in an entity, the Confederacy, protected by heroic and valorous leaders.6 In Charlottesville, we witnessed nostalgia for the pre-Civil War past, and a present where historical trauma is relived daily though was crystallized in a series of poignant incidents.

We begin by recounting the recent events in Charlottesville because they foreground the three keywords with which this volume engages: communication, history, and memory. Although the scholarly landscape has become more hospitable to theorizing history and memory as interdependent as opposed to antithetical,7 while also more frequently involving communication scholars in the conversation, current events suggest the stakes are especially high as we attempt to make sense of the lived experiences of individuals and collectives as they remember and reckon with their pasts in attempts to move forward.

What we witnessed in Charlottesville was a series of communicative actions enacted and narrativized, steeped in the past, and embodied in the present. While at face value the protest ostensibly addressed the status of statues, the protest and ensuing violence were about the politics and materiality of memory and its relationship to history. Immediately tethered to a place—Charlottesville, Virginia—and a nation, the United States—the communicative rituals subject to contest and negotiation can be seen across the world, from the former GDR to the former Soviet Union. These connections, however, cannot be forged without a firm grasp of the vagaries of history and the communicative processes underpinning its unfolding. ← 2 | 3 →

Communicating Memory & History makes the argument that the relationships between the subfields of communication inquiry referred to as communication history and memory studies have great promise for addressing the kinds of issues that are raised by events like those in Charlottesville. While communication history has rested somewhat uncomfortably on the margins of communication scholarship, with its motley crew of practitioners located betwixt and between multiple subfields, neither wholly recognized by communication studies nor respected by departmented historians, communication history has developed into a robust and diverse subfield. Rather than the “rambling interdiscipline”8 whose identity has been inchoate, at best, by embracing communication studies’ broader promises of “epistemic plurality, historical contingency, and practical engagement,”9 communication history provides a rich intellectual space for the exploration of memory and its varied manifestations.

The goal of this introduction is to argue for the place of communication history within memory studies scholarship. By foregrounding a set of themes that can be mapped onto communication historians’ attentiveness to the twinned processes of ritual and transmission,10 including space and time, narrative, materiality, and audience, Communicating Memory & History emphasizes multimodal perspectives that move scholarly inquiry beyond questions of mediation in nation-centered studies to a transnational context. In so doing, we seek to reinforce the positional locus of communications studies as a discipline whose very insistence on not being tied to any one epistemic or methodological model serves as an asset. As a result, communication historians are especially well equipped to engage with the issues of the dynamic relationships between the past and present, the individual and collective, and the local and global, that preoccupy scholars of memory.

On Communication History and Memory

If the relationship between the disciplines of communication and history has been likened to a meeting of two “distant, disliked relative[s]” who “offer handshakes” but not the proverbial hug, the relationship between the subfield of communication history and memory studies has been, at least outwardly, just as cold.11 The reason for this, we suggest, might stem from both communication history and memory studies’ difficulties in codifying their respective pasts, with communication historians embracing a concern David Blight has argued as endemic to the discipline of history: a fear of running the “risk [of] thinking with memory rather than about it.”12 ← 3 | 4 →

A relative newcomer to the disciplinary landscape, communication is a field of inquiry without much history—at least not when compared to its humanistic progenitors.13 Anchored in early 20th century responses to the dominance of positivist paradigms within the academy, the story of communication can best be cast as a sort of “invention of tradition,”14 an attempt to fill historical lacunae with an intellectual trajectory, a modus operandi. In crafting a story of origins, communication studies would forge a narrative that might grant the field a degree of legitimacy and community afforded its disciplinary relatives, or so was the hope.15 As Hanno Hardt summarized, “After all, the perceived need for an identity involves the construction of a fiction that serves to place the institution—or the field of study—in reality.”16 Simply put, “communities of scholars need stories to bind them together.”17 They are members of interpretive communities, as Barbie Zelizer has argued; as such, they “determine[s] what counts as evidence in which ways, making judgment calls about the focal points worth thinking about and the kinds of research that count.”18

“What counts,” however, has not always been easy to denote within the field of communication. This tension, at least in part, led to James W. Carey’s famous call for work that marries the ritual and transmission models of communication, presenting a vision of communication as culture. While Carey identified the study of communication as an enterprise we pursue to “examine the actual social process wherein significant symbolic forms are created, apprehended, and used,”19 his words, as John Durham Peters suggests, have since been adapted, reinterpreted, and even misinterpreted.20 Too often, communication scholars have taken Carey’s consideration of ritual and transmission to be a disciplinary mandate to elevate the ritual approach at the expense of transmission. The result is a false binary; ritual and transmission require each other for either to have any meaning.

Building on Carey’s call, and its place within the work of communication historians, whom we define here as scholars whose “domain includes ideas, practices and processes, institutions, materialities, and events of communicative expression, circulation, and exchange,”21 we then turn to the study of collective memory, which as Zelizer has argued, “represents a graphing of the past as it is used for present aims, a vision in bold relief of the past as it is woven into the present and future.”22 Such a graphing has led to memory studies’ appeal across the academy, attracting the attention of humanists, social scientists, and artists. Joanne Garde-Hansen has pointed out that this broad appeal has led to a capaciousness that, while often embraced in the name of interdisciplinarity, multi-disciplinarity, trans-disciplinarity, or even anti-disciplinarity, can also be imagined as a liability.23 In these ways, memory studies shares much in common with communication history: concerned with ← 4 | 5 → the past, both fields have often lacked a strict (or, factually, even a loose) sense of their own disciplinary mooring.

Yet, rather than attempt to map these histories onto one another, seeking points of conceptual and methodological overlap, this volume seeks to place the field of communication in conversation with the field of memory studies, considering the subfield of communication history with its own sense of history as a set of histories and its attendant biases so as not, as Josh Lauer has put it, to “disparage the significance of the past, but to acknowledge its dynamism.”24

The results of these efforts to map communication studies’ history, however, many have argued, has been a sense of intellectual incoherence and fracture stemming from at once the diversity of the canon from which historians of communication draw as well as, relatedly, communication historians’ disparate areas of study.25 There is, as William Eadie has argued, “the speech story,” “the journalism story,” and “the communication story”26 within the field. Perhaps as a result of this lack of “unified” history, the field of communication, as John Nerone suggests, “has always emphasized the future.”27

Such an emphasis might seem to make a scholarly preoccupation with the past untenable or incompatible with communication studies’ futurist gaze. In describing the field’s “powerful impulse to project historical narratives,”28 Nerone pointed to three particular formations that have bridged two broadly defined intellectual arcs within communication history scholarship: the history of technology, the history of the book, and the history of the public sphere. While this fairly simple, straightforward typology might seem to offer a sense of disciplined coherence, a sense that communication history’s purview could be neatly bounded, since the publication of Nerone’s essay in 2006, it has become increasingly clear that further categories might be needed to encompass the breadth of communication scholarship—or perhaps a more explicit recognition that within each of these formations, communication historians were ultimately engaging the very thing that had gone unspoken: producing histories of memory.

The disciplinary entry points for the study of memory are vast, from sociology to psychology to anthropology, making its inheritance “complex.”29 While, as Jeffrey Olick, Vened Vinitzky-Seroussi, and Daniel Levy note, memory is “hardly a new topic,” the study of memory has a history that is, like communication’s own story, segmented and multidisciplinary, owing not to a single discipline but to a confluence of interpretive frames. Often traced to “the decline of postwar modernist narratives of progressive improvement through an ever-expanding welfare state,”30 the so-called “memory boom” offered academics an opportunity to reflect at a historical juncture when nation-states sought to restore their legitimacy, seeking unity in the wake of ← 5 | 6 → global disruption. Simply put, scholars sought out memory in the service of reinstating the viability of the collective.

In the close to thirty years since historian Pierre Nora wrote in “Between Memory and History” of the oppositional nature of the two entities, scholars across the academy have, for the most part, largely abandoned the “memory and history as fundamental antagonist” trope that was distilled above so poignantly. Instead they have embraced a more generative frame that views memory and history as interdependent—entities whose conflicts and collisions are “necessary and productive.”31 As Astrid Erll writes, rather than the “Other of history,” memory “is the totality of the context within which such varied cultural phenomena originate.”32 If one views “history as a communication problem,”33 this volume posits memory as a particular communication history problem. It is the contention of Communicating Memory & History that the subfield of communication history’s particular orientation and sensitivity to the issues inherent in narrativizing the past make it a potent force in conversations surrounding cultural memory.

A History of This Book

Communicating Memory & History originated as a one-day pre-conference sponsored by the Communication History Division of the International Communication Association (ICA). Held in Seattle, Washington at the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) in 2014, the pre-conference was proposed in response to concerns regarding the Division’s self-definition. Then only seven years old, the Communication History Division was born in response to a reality within the field of communication: while historical research was being undertaken in corners of the organization, communication historians lacked a community and recognition as a collective of scholars engaged in critical inquiries into the past. As with all nascent organizations and collectives, this one (initially the Communication History Interest Group—CHIG, now the Communication History Division—CHD) was concerned with defining its borders. As such, “communication history,” as defined by the Division, was determined to be comprised of three areas of inquiry:

1. History of Communication, including Media History, focusing around history of communication praxis.

2. History of the Field of Communication, focusing largely around issues concerning the institution of communication studies and the research it has yielded.

3. History of the Idea of Communication, focusing around how communication has been conceptualized alternately over time.34 ← 6 | 7 →

Embracing the arenas of social, political, and intellectual history, where much important and excellent work has been done, communication history, as initially demarcated, had not been defined in capacious enough terms. Or perhaps more accurately, the Division had left as largely implicit what had become a truism: the relationship between memory and history made memory studies a dimension of communication history scholarship that had been, to that point, largely invisible, as if we were internalizing the very debates surrounding history and memory that Nora had articulated some years before.

Beyond a simple acknowledgement, however, of memory studies’ absence in our organizational documentation, we posed the question: What does communication history as a subfield offer academic inquiries into cultural memory?

A quick review of the ICA’s recent conference programs reveals the presence of memory studies scholarship in a variety of divisions, from Popular Communication to Journalism Studies to Visual Communication, and rightfully so. Each of these divisions represents fruitful areas of memory study, and we do not intend for this volume to declare memory the rightful province of communication history. Such a pronouncement would be antithetical to the spirit of this volume, and to the very interdisciplinarity/transdisciplinarity we herald as one of the field’s greatest strengths. This is thus not a volume focused on “media memory—the systematic exploration of collective pasts that are narrated by the media, through the use of the media, and about the media.”35 This volume is centrally focused on how communication historians’ work in “triangulating record, transmission, and interpretation,”36 can productively expand how the subfield positions itself in specific forms of knowledge production.

Overview: Communicating Memory & History


XII, 282
ISBN (Hardcover)
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2019 (January)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2019. XII, 282 pp., 11 b/w ill., 1 table

Biographical notes

Nicole Maurantonio (Volume editor) David W. Park (Volume editor)

Nicole Maurantonio received her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania and serves as Associate Professor of Rhetoric & Communication Studies and American Studies at the University of Richmond. She has previously published in Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, Southern Communication Journal, The Communication Review, and Media History, among other journals. David W. Park received his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania and serves as Professor of Communication at Lake Forest College. He has previously published The History of Media and Communication Research (with Jefferson Pooley), The Long History of New Media (with Nicholas W. Jankowski and Steve Jones), Pierre Bourdieu: A Critical Introduction to Media and Communication Theory, and The International History of Communication Study (with Peter Simonson).


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