History 693J: Comparative Memory
Herter Hall room 546 – Thursdays 4:00-6:30 pm
Fall Semester 2010



Dr. Jon Berndt Olsen
Department of History

University of Massachusetts at Amherst


Office Hours: Mondays and Wednesdays 1-2pm or by appointment
Office:  Herter Hall 609
Telephone: 413.545.6767
Email: jon@history.umass.edu

Web: http://people.umass.edu/jon

Blog: http://blogs.umass.edu/jon





The phenomenon of cultures of memory has emerged over the past decade as a subject of serious historical scholarship.  The aim of this seminar is to discuss the problem of national memory cultures since the Second World War. We will begin the semester by looking at theories of memory and national identity since 1945. Although the primary thrust of our readings will deal with remembering the Second World War, we will also delve into other areas of remembering. The German concept of Vergangenheitsbewähltigung, or coming to terms with the past, and its relationship to national identity will serve as our guiding analytical tool for our investigation into this topic. We will look at a variety of nation-states in Europe as well as the United States and Japan in order to compare and contrast national forms of memory culture and ponder questions of universality versus distinct historical experience.  We will also concentrate on the political and cultural aspects that different national forms of remembering have had on the historical development of these nations.