Though we live in a time when memory seems to be losing its hold on communities, memory remains central to personal, communal, and national identities. And although popular and public discourses from speeches to films invite a shared sense of the past, official sites of memory such as memorials, museums, and battlefields embody unique rhetorical principles.
Places of Public Memory: The Rhetoric of Museums and Memorials is a sustained and rigorous consideration of the intersections of memory, place, and rhetoric. From the mnemonic systems inscribed upon ancient architecture to the roadside accident memorials that line America’s highways, memory and place have always been deeply interconnected. This book investigates the intersections of memory and place through nine original essays written by leading memory studies scholars from the fields of rhetoric, media studies, organizational communication, history, performance studies, and English. The essays address, among other subjects, the rhetorical strategies of those vying for competing visions of a 9/11 memorial at New York City’s Ground Zero; rhetorics of resistance embedded in the plans for an expansion of the National Civil Rights Museum; representations of nuclear energy—both as power source and weapon—in Cold War and post–Cold War museums; and tours and tourism as acts of performance.
By focusing on “official” places of memory, the collection causes readers to reflect on how nations and local communities remember history and on how some voices and views are legitimated and others are minimized or erased.