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The Future of Memory

ENGL 261.301
instructor(s):
fulfills requirements:
Sector 1: Theory and Poetics of the Standard Major
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major

The modern world is a kind of perpetual war between memory and forgetfulness.  This course will explore the central role that literature plays in this ongoing conflict.  We'll pay particular attention to the role of memory and the remembrance of historical events in an age of globalization--in relation to the rise of new media, the obligation to witness, the imperative to record marginal voices, and other important themes.  The course builds upon tremendous scholarly interest in memory studies in recent decades and its impact on literary studies.  Course readings will include major works by seminal writers and theorists including Marcel Proust's Remembrance of Things Past; George Orwell's 1984; Friedrich Nietzsche, Ecce Homo, How One Becomes What One Is; Sigmund Freud's The Future of an Illusion; Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities; Don DeLillo's White Noise; Jose Saramago's Blindness; Lydia Davis's Almost No Memory; Toni Morrison's Beloved; and Jorge Louis Borges' The Labyrinth.  We'll also address modern perceptions of the role of memory in classical antiquity, the Renaissance, and especially early America, where the construction of a common national heritage was vital to the American experiment with democracy.  We'll also explore contributions by the best contemporary scientific writers, filmmakers, and urban planners.