Lauren Braun

Degree Type

Honors Capstone Project

Date of Submission

Spring 5-1-2010

Capstone Advisor

Amos Kiewe

Honors Reader

Not Listed

Capstone Major

Communication and Rhetorical Studies

Capstone College

Visual and Performing Arts

Audio/Visual Component


Capstone Prize Winner


Won Capstone Funding


Honors Categories


Subject Categories

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.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.