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Help- History and Memory ! (1 Viewer)


New Member
May 20, 2004
what on earth is history and memory?!
The topic seems sooo fague and completely ridiculous. I have got some related resources that I THINK will work but I don't know how to write about them 'cause I can't tie down the topic. Has anyone got any ideas, assignments, advice...please post them!


New Member
Jun 15, 2008
Fairfield West
hey im pretty clueless too.. we're studying The Fiftieth Gate, which text are you doing? my teacher gave us a booklet with some helpful info:

the unit develops your understanding of the relationship between representation and meaning; that is, how the representation of history and memory in your texts creates meaning.

knowledge of your culture and heritage is transmitted to us through a mixture of known history and remembered events, people and experiences
eg. a person may with to begin a family tree because of memories they have of their grandparents or other relatives who are now deceased. in order to find out about long dead ancestors however, it would be necessary to find evidence from govt archives, family documents, etc. and the opposite also applies. without memory to stimulate our interest or connect us emotionally to remembered relatives who have died, we may not be interested in such archives or documents. so, in the example of the creation of a family tree, we can see how the relationship of history and memory can clarify our past and give us cultural knowledge.

Some factors affecting our memories, knowledge and interpretations of past events are:

time lapse
documentary evidence
degree of background knowledge
personal experience
personal "milestones"
social influences
self acceptance
cultural identity, etc

Some questions/statements to think about:
  • is there a difference between memories of the past and the past itself?
  • how do individual and social memories intersect?
  • why are some aspects of the past remembered and others forgotten?
  • how does memory become history?
  • identity is shaped by memory, not history
  • memory doesnt tell the whole story, but neither does history
  • memories passed on to others allows fora continued genesis
  • "good" memories can take over as a way of dealing with the catastrophes of history
  • "bad" memories can be repressed as a way of dealing with the catastrophes of history
  • memories can reveal forgotten histories
  • histories can bring up forgotten memories
  • personal memory is harder to deal with than documented events
  • memories and stories told can change to accomodate the challenges of the listener and situation (how stories change through word of mouth, think chinese whispers)
  • responses to the legacy of the past differs with the individual
^^ for these, i found it kinda helpful to choose one and write down your thoughts or opinions about that statement, then choose a few more and do the same.. you'll find that some of your ideas connect..

relevant article:
Three million names and their stories bear witness to the Holocaust - World - www.smh.com.au

Example of how to discuss a text for this unit:

Set during the Reconstruction eta of American history, Beloved centers on the power of memory and history. For the former slaves in the novel, memory is a burden and history is a luxury. The brutal conditions of slavery are all too recent, and many former slaves would rather avoid remembering their enslaved existence. As a rule, slaves did not enjoy close relationships with their parents or children, so their histories are deeply fragmented. The non-linear narrative style complements the fragmented nature of the slaves' past. The protagonist, Sethe, must deal with the haunting memories of her past and the novel begins eighteen years after she kills her baby daughter in order to save her child from facing life as a slave. Sethe's community condemns her and her conscience plagues her for her actions. Beloved is based on a real event; the novel gives the bare bones of historical truth, flesh and blood. As a work that straddles the line between fiction and history, Beloved extrapolates an exacting commentary on the legacy of slavery from the experiences of a single family.

*ideas about history and memory conveyed through the text
*emotive and persuasive language
*states structure of text and comments on relationship between text and structure

..and the rest of the booklet is chapter summaries, and interview with the author of The Fiftieth Gate and some other short related texts that dont have links i can give you.. :(

i hope that at least some of this helped out.. and sorry about any spelling/punctuation mistakes, i havent been on the computer in a while..

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