“Conflicts of Memory”

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Course Description: The purpose of memory, Nietzsche famously wrote in his landmark treatise On the Advantage and Disadvantage of History for Life, is to use the past “only in the service of the life we have learned to live.”The task of memory, he writes, is to teach us how to live.

In the wake of some of the worst experiences of human suffering, pain, and death, how does the memory of such pasts teach us to live? More specifically, how do the stories we tell of that past teach us how we understand our present, and how might literary formnegotiate between both the conflict of memory and the memory of conflict? And finally, how do narrative strategies engage with—and often grapple with—irreconcilable, conflicting, and competing memories of conflict?

Course Objectives: This course will combine an inquiry into the aesthetic representation of historical conflicts from around the globe with a theoretical investigation into the philosophies of history, narratology, and cultures of commemoration. We will especially look at the relationship between memory and political capital, and the stakes of narrative authority, particularly for groups that have historically lacked representational means for articulation. We will investigate the conventions of producing, articulating, and representing post-conflict narratives of suffering in a global economy. Finally, we will ask how a diverse array of cultures, nations, and communities negotiating practices of post-conflict commemoration, across a range of geopolitical and historical contexts, adapt, adopt, and grapple with 20thand 21stcentury tropes conventions of post-conflict commemoration.

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