Memory and Media: Sophomore College 2002


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Updated: October 1, 2002
This course will begin with a brief exploration of the ancient art of memory (one of the five key elements of classical rhetoric) as it was described and taught in texts from the Greek and Roman era in order to set the stage for answering a central question: how do media interact with, extend, and shape human memory? We will consider the ways in which memory functions across a range of media, from oral storytelling to various forms of writing, music, film, and other visual arts to the web and Internet. In addition, we will sharpen our focus on memory and media by looking carefully at memorials—on campus and elsewhere in the Bay Area—and asking what sorts of events and people get memorialized in this culture and how memorials (such as sculptures, buildings, or other architectural sites, music, websites, and other forms) shape individual, public, and institutional memories. Throughout our explorations, we will ask how the media for storing and transmitting memories affect our awareness of ourselves as individuals, as members of communities, and as participants in history.
Participants in this seminar will choose an instantiation of memory in one or two media and genres (for example, song lyrics describing or enshrining a particular event, person, or memory; competing historical accounts of an event or person; one or more visual art memorials; the remembered portrayal of an event or person in film/video and in print or another medium) and explore how the particular medium through which the memory is transmitted influences and shapes public and individual memory. In addition, participants will work on brief memory pieces of their own, attempting to record vivid persons or events in whatever medium seems most appropriate. Students’ brief oral presentations will conclude the seminar