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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 III: Embodiment & Materiality


If memory’s usability and present-mindedness are now taken-for-granted assumptions of the scholarly landscape, so, too, is memory’s materiality. As Barbie Zelizer reminds us, “Memory exists in the world rather than in a person’s head, and so is embodied in different cultural forms. We find memory in objects, narratives, about the past, even the routines by which we structure our day.”1 Materiality, as Simonson, Peck, Craig, and Jackson Jr. note, has a variety of connotations and has consequently been a source of particular challenge for communication historians, for whom the “Marxian linkage of the material with the economic and productive spheres, as well as its revisionist characterization of discourse, too, as material,”2 has emphasized both the material’s vitality as well as its elusiveness. This section picks up on “materiality,” however, in a second sense, referencing “bodies and their material senses, perceptions, and physical arrangement in the world.”3 While much work within the subfield of communication history has considered materiality in this way, from history of the book to media archaeology to sound studies to visual culture, less work has considered the precise methodologies and concepts for foregrounding memory within studies of materiality and embodiment.4

Cultural forms “such as monuments, diaries, fashion trends, television retrospectives, museum openings, and fashion shows, all house memory in a durable fashion, anchoring the transient and variable nature of memory itself.”5 Beyond mere acknowledgement of memory’s materiality and embodied nature, the chapters in this section consider a set of...

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