Honors Capstone Project
Date of Submission
Communication and Rhetorical Studies
Visual and Performing Arts
Capstone Prize Winner
Won Capstone Funding
Communication | International and Intercultural Communication
Interest in the study of public memories has been growing in recent years, particularly after Maurice Halbwachs introduced the concept of collective memory in La mémoire collective. Differing from personal memory, collective memory focuses on the memories shared by a larger group or society, which are then used to form ideas and narratives about our pasts. It creates a connection to past events for those who were not there to actually experience it. Public memory enters into the social conscience when there is some event or time period that needs to be remembered, and can be found in a variety of forms—books, museums, public spaces, films, and monuments. Although Pierre Nora asserts that memories are stabilized and rooted in physical spaces such as archives, libraries, or monuments, recent other studies have added film to the lists of sites of public memory. It is not a spontaneous occurrence; public memory is deliberately created, which has two implications. First, public memories have intentions behind them, and secondly, as a created remembrance, they require maintenance on the part of the society to which they belong in order to survive. Unlike official history, public memories are open to a multitude of interpretations and may well change over time. They can have a significant impact on history though, and have the potential to create or alter past accounts of “official” history. This paper examines the ways in which public memories of the Holocaust, Vietnam War, and American Civil Rights Movement have been created and changed over time, through studying the memorials and film portrayals of these times.
Braun, Lauren, "(Re)Writing History: Public Memories of the Holocaust, Vietnam War, and American Civil Rights Movement" (2010). Syracuse University Honors Program Capstone Projects. 338.
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