How, for what reasons, and with what effects is memory contested in the contemporary city? (Note: you can either focus on a single city in answering this question or instead offer a comparative analysis)
Information from the syllabus about this course: Course Description: This course examines contemporary approaches to the past through a critical reading of theoretical and comparative literature, a series of in-depth case studies, and visits to sites and institutions of historical importance in London. This is explicitly not designed to be a conventional survey of historiography and instead offers a thematic approach to the many ways that the past lives – or is overlooked or otherwise manipulated – in contemporary times. One of the subsidiary aims of the modules is certainly to further your understanding of the development of history as an academic discipline, but the main emphasis is on the controversial relationship between ‘professional’ historians and other groups with an interest in the past – politicians and states, cultural institutions, the media, and the public. The material covered in the modules is therefore of critical importance in developing a nuanced understanding of the place of the past in the contemporary world, and the potential roles and responsibilities of those with an advanced historical training – including you! – in contributing to these controversies, debates, and public presentations relating to the past. Among the general issues to be explored are the evolution of the historical profession, the connection between history and nation-building (as manifested in monuments and acts of commemoration), the role of history in the ‘identity politics’ of minority groups, and the problems of preserving and displaying aspects of the national heritage as exemplified in London’s museums, churches and historic sites. Our case studies are global in reach, with a particular interest in dealing with the past. As well as seminar- and library-based research, you will be expected to visit sites in London including: St Clement Danes Church (the ‘RAF Church’); Brick Lane; the Foundling Museum; St Paul’s Cathedral; the Old Operating Theatre at Guy’s Hospital; Postman’s Park; the Enlightenment Galleries at the British Museum, and the various locations featured in ‘Imperial Images’ podcast. Assessment: The assessed work for this class consists of one 2,500-word essay.
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