Reading & Composition
The Persistence of Memory
Time the destroyer is time the preserver.
- T. S. Eliot, The Dry Salvages.
What does it mean to remember? What is the function of memory––or, for that matter, its nature? What does memory do, and what might be its limitations, its dangers, or its fallacies? Where is the line between memory and memorialization, between narrating and narrativizing, between the personal and collective pasts, between memory and history? Is memory personal, national, global, cultural? What is the role of misremembering or forgetting in our understanding of memory? And who owns a memory, anyway––a person? A collective? The story it might eventually become? What sorts of responsibilities can we have towards a memory? A seemingly simple concept, memory, it turns out, can be as amorphous and varied as individual memories themselves.
The texts in this course range across different time periods, languages, cultures, genres, and forms; they are united only by a shared engagement with the questions of memory that will drive this course. Together we will explore the different imaginative and ethical possibilities that various modes of memory afford us, and the distinct duties of remembrance that particular events and experiences generate.