Course Name: Arc of Memory: Ways to Remember/What Not to Forget
Instructor: Nancy Wolsk
Memory binds us together as families, as neighbors, and friends. It ties us to home. We hold personal memories close—the birth of a child, the kindness of parents, the loss of someone dear; these memories grow out of private events and kinship relations. Photographs, diaries, letters, and souvenirs collected through a lifetime enshrine our private memories. Our public memories—the stuff of communities and nation—are social, spanning an arc from sports events, scandals, and heroic action to national disaster. Publicly we remember persons and events with plaques, gardens, and shrines; we forge a bond with the past in marble and bronze. In this course, we will look at some of the personal and public ways of keeping memories alive. To do this, we will read memoirs and letters, watch films, and visit public spaces. Students will, for the most part, engage in research topics that involve material reminders of the past: the meanings of photographs, the phenomenon of scrapbooking, the presence of major monuments in public places (the Martin Luther King Memorial in Birmingham, Alabama; the World Trade Center memorial in Lower Manhattan); public parks and gardens, and more.