Communication and Culture | Current Topics in Communication and Culture (Topic: Rhetoric and Public Memory)
C334 | 25096 | Smith, C.

MW, 11:15 AM-12:30 PM, 800 E. 3rd St. – room 100

Note: CMCL-C 334 can be taken twice for credit when the topic

Instructor: Cynthia Duquette Smith
Office: 800 E. 3rd St. – room 221
Phone: 855-5307

This course explores the contested nature of public memory in the
United States. It explores what public memory is, the nature of
public memory, how it is perpetuated in societies, how and why it is
configured to privilege some historical interpretations over others,
and how it is modified over time.

Ultimately, this course asks the related questions: How do our
public memories shape us as American citizens? How do those memories
shape our relationship to ourselves, to others, to the state, the
nation, the world? What are the implications of the personae shaped
for us through public memory?

Together we’ll turn a critical eye toward the various media of
memory such as museums, popular film, memorials (virtual and
physical), living history, children’s toys and collectibles,
television, the news, tourist souvenirs, public speeches, and much

During this class we will work together to meet our learning
objectives. At the end of the class you will be able to:

1) Create your own interpretation/argument about how a particular
public memory rhetorically constructs American citizens, and to what

2) Apply your understanding of the rhetorical functions of public
memory to your own original analyses of museums and monuments in
American life.

3) Understand how public memory has been constructed in the United

4) Understand and evaluate the role of public memory in shaping and
reinforcing preferred cultural norms and interpretations of history.

5) Identify and critique the “equipment for living” offered by
various public memories.

6) Evaluate several approaches to public memory by scholars in
communication and other disciplines, recognizing the connection
between public memory and rhetorical studies.