Memory and History in Late Modern Europe

History 103B.003

Fall 2014
Day & Time: 
M 10-12P
What is memory’s relationship to the past? Is memory an obstacle or an asset to historical understanding? How has it been mobilized—consciously or unconsciously—to influence cultural, political, and historical imagination? This seminar will take up these questions, exploring how societies have remembered their pasts and to what ends.  
The course is divided into two parts. The first will offer a conceptual framework for understanding how memory operates in society. We will discuss theories of individual, collective, and national memory, engaging with classic texts like Maurice Halbwachs’ On Collective Memory and Pierre Nora’s study of “sites of memory” as well as with more recent work by scholars like Paul Ricoeur and Jan and Aleida Assmann. We will investigate how individuals and societies have transmitted memory, focusing on media like photography, film, museums, archives, and monuments. And we will interrogate the relationship between memory and time, namely how the organization and punctuation of time through commemoration has shaped the identities of individuals, generations, and nations. The second part of the course will consider concrete examples of memory at work in nineteenth and twentieth-century German and French history. Readings will cover, among other things, the French Revolution, French and German nationalism, the Holocaust, and decolonization.

Course Books

The Vichy Syndrome: History and Memory in France Since 1944 by Rousso, Henry Harvard University Press. ISBN: 9780674935396 Required
Multidirectional Memory: Remembering the Holocaust in the Age of Decolonization by Rothberg, Michael Stanford University Press. ISBN: 9780804762182 Required
The Nationalization of the Masses: Political Symbolism and Mass Movements in Germany from the Napoleonic Wars through the Third Reich by Mosse, George L. H. Fertig. ISBN: 9780865274310 Required
The Bastille: A History of a Symbol of Despotism and Freedom by Lüsebrink, Hans-Jürgen; Reichardt, Rolf Duke University Press. ISBN: 9780822318941 Required
From Monuments to Traces: Artifacts of German Memory, 1870-1990 by Koshar, Rudy University of California Press. ISBN: 9780520217683 Required
On Collective Memory by Halbwachs, Maurice University of Chicago Press. ISBN: 9780226115962 Required
Cultural Memory and Western Civilization: Functions, Media, Archives by Assmann, Aleida Cambridge University Press. ISBN: 9780521165877 Required