Collins Living Learning Center | Public Memory and Public Mourning
L210 | 13741 | Emily Schusterbauer


Although often critiqued for its shortsightedness, contemporary U.S. culture is obsessed with
the processes of commemorating and memorializing.  Through visiting memorials, observing
days of remembrance, and watching television coverage of natural and man-made
destruction, U.S. citizens are encouraged to remember specific calamities, regardless of their
personal proximity to them.  Yet, the process of remembering is always fraught, involving
politically motivated decisions about who and what gets remembered.  In this course, we will
examine how various national and international calamities have been remembered in the U.S.
during roughly the second half of the twentieth century.  Investigating the phenomenon of
“cultural trauma,” we will consider how events like the Holocaust, the Columbine High School
shooting, and the September 11th attacks have been shaped by media reports, nationalist
rhetoric, and public memorials.  At the semester’s end, students will present research on the
mourning and memorializing of one national or international calamity not discussed in class.