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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : History

Undergraduate Course: History, Memory, and Everyday Life (HIST10497)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits40 ECTS Credits20
SummaryEveryday life is saturated by the past. Memories -- both personal and "collective" -- structure how people view themselves and the world around them, their daily behaviours and attitudes, and how they interact with others. Moreover, these memories are forged, made meaningful, and reworked through everyday activities, be it chatting with friends and family, reading the newspaper, browsing social media, watching TV, walking the streets, eating food, or playing games. This course explores the relationship between history, memory, and everyday life. It seeks to uncover the power and the possibilities of memory in shaping everyone's unfolding present -- and how studying these everyday practices of remembrance leads to a fuller understanding of history and the place of the individual within it.
Course description This module explores how the past is remembered in both formal acts of commemoration and the more informal settings of everyday life. The course is divided into two distinctive but related halves. In the first semester, we adopt a more bird's eye and representational perspective, exploring key concepts from the canon of Memory Studies through the analysis of formal representations of the past such as those found in museums, monuments, statues, historical film, or TV documentary history. This gives us a critical grounding in issues such as the relationship between individual and collective memory, the use and abuse of the past in the service of the nation, the transmission of memories from one generation to the next, and the travels of memory across national and cultural boundaries through media, migration, and digital technology.

In semester two, we pursue a more bottom-up approach. We ask not only how people engage with more formal historical representations, but also how memories of the past suffuse activities and places that are not self-consciously commemorative and how they impact upon the lives of people who do not have a self-professed interest in history. This endeavour will take us from the quiet abandoned industry of Detroit to the noisy and often vitriolic space of YouTube, from selfies at Auschwitz to the board game Secret Hitler, and from the taste of feta cheese to Viking-inspired craft beer. This course will be particularly suitable to students with an interest in memory, public history, and social history "from below".

Content note: The study of History inevitably involves the study of difficult topics that we encourage students to approach in a respectful, scholarly, and sensitive manner. Nevertheless, we remain conscious that some students may wish to prepare themselves for the discussion of difficult topics. In particular, the course organiser has outlined that the following topics may be discussed in this course, whether in class or through required or recommended primary and secondary sources: genocide, colonialism, discrimination, war, death, and violence. While this list indicates sensitive topics students are likely to encounter, it is not exhaustive because course organisers cannot entirely predict the directions discussions may take in tutorials or seminars, or through the wider reading that students may conduct for the course.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements A pass in 40 credits of third level historical courses or equivalent.

Students should only be enrolled on this course with approval from the History Honours Programme Administrator.
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  0
Course Start Full Year
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 400 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 44, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 8, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 348 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework:
4,000 word primary-source essay (30%)
2,000 word mock book proposal (20%)
6,000 word research essay (50%)
Feedback Students will receive feedback on their coursework, and will have the opportunity to discuss that feedback further with the Course Organiser during their published office hours for this course or by appointment.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Identify, explicate, and critique the core methodological tools and concepts of memory studies.
  2. Analyse commemorative and representational expressions of memory (primary sources) in relation to the above core concepts.
  3. Identify how the past influences people's contemporary everyday lives in ways that go beyond formal commemoration and mnemonic representation.
  4. Creatively use diverse sources -- written, audiovisual, material, digital, auto-ethnographic -- to expose the everyday workings of collective memory.
  5. Speak knowledgeably as public historians about the role of the past in the present and the role of trained historians in these contemporary settings.
Reading List
Assmann, Aleida, and Sebastian Conrad, eds. Memory in a Global Age: Discourses, Practices and Trajectories. Houndsmills, Basingstoke; New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.

Cubitt, Geoffrey. History and Memory. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2007.

Erll, Astrid. "The Hidden Power of Implicit Collective Memory." Memory, Mind & Media 1 (2022).

Erll, Astrid. Memory in culture. Translated by Sara B. Young. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire; New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

Halstead, Huw. "Everyday Public History." History 107, no. 375 (2022): 235-48.

Olick, Jeffrey K., Vered Vinitzky-Seroussi, and Daniel Levy. The Collective Memory Reader. Oxford University Press, 2011.

Rosenzweig, Roy, and David Thelen. The Presence of the Past: Popular Uses of History in American Life. Columbia University Press, 1998.

Rothberg, Michael. Multidirectional Memory: Remembering the Holocaust in the Age of Decolonization. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2009.

Samuel, Raphael, and Paul Thompson. The Myths We Live By. Routledge, 2021.

Samuel, Raphael. Theatres of Memory: Past and Present in Contemporary Culture. London; New York: Verso, 1994.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Students taking this course will develop the following graduate attributes:

Awareness of how the past impacts the present in the public sphere and how trained historians can use their analytical skills to productively engage with public historical debates.

Ability to work in an interdisciplinary manner and to deploy analytical skill sets deriving not only from historical study but also from anthropology, sociology, literary studies, and media studies.

Fluency in working with a variety of different sources, including visual material, artistic outputs, literature, ego documents, and digital data.

Capacity to engage sensitively and critically with difficult histories and with the relationship between the past and contemporary identity politics.

Developing these graduate attributes will support students to pursue careers both within academia and also beyond in sectors such as media and communications, heritage and governance, or the third sector.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Huw Halstead
Tel: (01316) 506693
Course secretaryMiss Annabel Samson
Tel: (0131 6)50 3783
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