Course Content (Syllabus)
The terms “memory turn” or “memory boom” were coined in order to describe the rapid increase of the memory-related research over the last 30 years or so in the academic area as well as the proliferation of the so called “memory cultures” on the level of social practice. Concepts such as social, collective, cultural memory, cultural trauma, counter-memory etc. have become useful tools in the humanities for the interdisciplinary analysis of cultural and social phenomena. In addition, the contemporary societies of the globalization era often strongly concern themselves with matters of the past, that are linked to human rights issues and international relations: how is it possible for both perpetrators and victims of genocides committed in the course of history to overcome the earlier trauma and reach a mutual understanding in the present? And under what premises the public recognition of the suffering of the other can be considered sincere? Analogous questions are posed in the case of civil wars: how former enemies can come to a peaceful coexistence? Furthermore, collective memory is crucial for the constitution of national identity. However this applies not only to big national formations but to minorities as well- and the challenge here is the pacific cohabiting of different “mnemonic” communities. In our times of mass migration such problems can turn into a highly explosive political subject. The struggle of different groups in societies to advance their own view of the past and its meanings also relates to the inquiries into postcolonial contexts. These and other similar topics will be examined in the course under the prism of memory theories (with an emphasis on the concepts of Jan and Aleida Assmann). Mass mediated representations of the dealing with the past (including literature and film) will be taken into consideration as well.