Folklore | Forms of Commemoration
F420 | 2415 | McDowell


We see from the response to the attacks of September 11, 2001, that
people draw on a range of traditional resources – stories, jokes,
legends, songs, music, poetry, artful displays, and rituals – in
seeking understanding and comfort after disruptive events. This class
will explore the activation of traditional forms of artistic
creativity and expression in the aftermath of violent episodes. We
will examine the whole spectrum of responses to September 11 as a
case in point, but our discussion will not be limited to this one
instance. We will review, as well, the role of ballads in Mexico,
carnival in South America, and popular music in the United States, in
expressing a continuity of identity through time and tribulation. Our
goal, by semester’s end, is to develop a theory of commemoration, by
which I mean public acts of remembering, that centers on the rhetoric
and aesthetics of these public enactments, and how they accomplish
their mission of reviving the sense of community and allowing us to
obtain closure and move on with our lives.

Fulfills a COAS Arts and Humanities, Traditions and Ideas
distribution requirement.