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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 II: Narrative

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As a threading concept for scholarly work, narrative is unusual in its capacity to be refracted differently through considerations of communication, memory, and history. In communication study, rhetoric has granted narrative paradigmatic status. Walter R. Fisher’s seminal work positioned narrative as a way to understand the persuasive power of stories. Narrative provided a way for rhetoricians to distance themselves from the assumption that persuasion depended as much on rationality as had oft been presumed. Fisher argued that it was narrative probability (“what constitutes a coherent story”) and narrative fidelity (“whether the stories they experience ring true with the stories they know to be true in their lives”) that come to matter in persuasion.1 Narrative has also become a frequently encountered element in the broader constellation of cultural studies in communication. Here we find narrative used not so much to explain persuasion as much as to consider its power to constitute a social world, starting with a consideration of how stories operate and building to the grander ideological ramifications of particular narrative arrangements. Sarah Kozloff provides a careful overview of how narrative theory can be applied to television, with a consideration of the different formal narrative, and of the roles played by actors within these narratives.2 A similar approach to narrative has been applied to journalism.3 New media have prompted renewed considerations of how to apply narrative theory to media texts.4

For many historians, narrative presents at once a more pressing and yet more subtle issue for...

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