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Communicating Memory & History

Edited By Nicole Maurantonio and David W. Park

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.

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Section I: Communicating Space & Time


Barbie Zelizer has remarked that collective memory is, among other things, partial, unpredictable, and material.1 Memory’s complex relationship to space and time continues to emphasize the variability of this work.2 The result has been the scholarly pursuit, as Wulf Kansteiner notes, of a “slippery phenomenon,”3 which has fostered a current intellectual deficiency: the lack of a theoretical and methodological apparatus for engaging with memory’s unpredictability.

Attempts to negotiate this conceptual and methodological challenge have historically led to a focus “on the representation of specific events within particular chronological, geographical, and media settings,”4 often to the exclusion of the audiences implicated. The outcome has been a corpus of rich case studies spanning the disciplinary landscape, emerging from both the humanities and social sciences that, while valuable, can only take us so far. As Kansteiner has argued, so-called “collective memory studies,”5 for instance, has “not yet sufficiently conceptualized collective memories as distinct from individual memory.”6 Such a critique builds on the earlier work of historian Pierre Nora, whose theorization of “lieux de memoire,” or sites of memory, posits such “lieux” as “mixed, hybrid, mutant, bound intimately with life and death, with time and eternity; enveloped in a Mobius strip of the collective and the individual, the sacred and the profane, the immutable and the mobile.”7 Emphasizing the “lieux”’s “capacity for metamorphosis, an endless recycling of their meaning and an unpredictable proliferation of their ramifications,”8 Nora introduces the lieu de memoire as...

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