Topics in American Culture Studies


Memory matters. The stories we tell about our pasts are immensely powerful, but remembering them "correctly" is often more complicated than we might expect. In this course, we read works of diverse American authors, artists, and scholars who wrestle with the ethics and politics of memory to ask: What is at stake when we choose how, what, and who to remember? How is "individual" memory different from "collective" memory? What kind of authority do memories have? For whom? And can someone own a memory? Violent events can resist the ability of language to describe them after the fact. Is it even possible, then, to think about memory without thinking about language? Conversely, can we consider literary and artistic representations of memory without understanding how our brains actually work? Accessibly staging debates in memory studies, trauma studies, and literary studies, If I Remember Correctly engages with some of the most pressing concerns of our time, for example how violent histories that are often under threat of denial (chattel slavery, colonialism, war) can be recollected, recounted, and taught. Authors, artists, andscholars discussed include Toni Morrison, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Victoria Chang, Kara Walker, Wendy S. Walters, Muriel Rukeyser, Paul Ricoeur, Saidiya Hartman, Michael Rothberg, Walter Benn Michaels, Marianne Hirsh, Rebecca Schneider, and Paul Saint-Amour.
Course Attributes: EN H; BU BA; AS HUM; FA HUM; AR HUM

Section 01

Topics in American Culture Studies
View Course Listing - SP2023