Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Maurice Halbwachs first proposed a collective approach to memory in the early twentieth century, but the vast majority of subsequent scholarship investigates memory’s social properties from a theoretical point of view. This project instead proposes that memory functions as a social phenomenon in significant and real ways, primarily understood through the social relations that arise within social frameworks, which provide a structure against which people’s memories come together to form important memory-narratives that configure individual and social consciousness. Once people transform memory from individual thought-image into socially structured language, memory takes on social properties. Memory relies upon social frameworks to form and maintain memory-narratives, but also on sites and objects to create a more tangible connection to the past through such narratives. With the growth in such external memory in recent years, i.e. museums, memorials, etc., people cannot remember the past to the degree they once could. In other words, people have come to rely more on things than on people to reconstruct the past in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Consequently, people cannot remember the past to the extent they once did. Post-apocalyptic literature and film intervene by addressing the heightened anxiety people feel regarding the changing experience of memory. This project examines how such unique narrative provide the necessary spaces through which to better understand the social nature of memory, as well as the threat external memory imposes upon acts of remembering and forgetting. They utilize the imagined future space, one often devoid of people (social frame-works) and places (geographical signifiers) to show memory’s underlying social characteristics and how changes to social frameworks occasion changes to people’s mnemonic capability.



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Committee Chair

Coats, Lauren