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COMM 2101
Monday, Jan. 9, 2012
History and Memory
Reading: Ch. 6
- The early art of memory was systematic and teachable, and its value was demonstrated by the
commitment of a speaker to learn, practice, and cultivate it
- As technology advanced, we gained devices that helped us remember things (i.e. the printing
press or the teleprompter)
- Memory is not simply a mental operation uses or that he/she can refine and improve; rather,
memory is a phenomenon of community hence the notion of collective memory
- Memory may be lodged in ethnic groups, families, nation-states, etc.
- This collectivized understanding of memory goes by a number of monikers: public memory,
cultural memory, and social memory
- Representation is at the heart of how groups of people remember
- Memory and history are related, but very different; history is the production of historians,
claiming for itself a legitimacy based on research norms, and memory is a performance of social
collectives, (collective memory) an overtly political and emotionally invested phenomenon;
collective memory serves the interest of the present
- There are at least 6 ways in which communication may be said to be collective
memory/inherently related to collective memory:
1. Communication depends on people’s pre-understandings of language or other social codes
or symbol systems; we are born into language, it predates and prefigures us
2. Communication depends on shared background assumptions
3. Communication is cumulative (a message refigures what has gone on before it)
4. Communication constructs and refigures identities according to “membership” in collectives
or social groups
5. Communication depends upon material supports or technologies (which has a number of
implications for our collective memory):
The capacity for some material supports to preserve our communicative messages
The deliberate attempt to shape collective memory by means of particular kinds of
communicative messages
An interesting return with a twist of the theorized connection between memory and
place; we associate ideas with geographical places to help us remember
6. Communication often involves struggles over power (communication is not just something
we do, it is a highly valued practice or commodity)
Communication is an idea that is linked to a series of concepts
Communication is a way of making sense of an array of different phenomenon’s
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