A Future from the Past: Perspectives from Memory Studies


  • Carolyn Kitch Temple University


memory studies, public history, social movements, cultural geography, performance, mediation


Like American Studies, the interdisciplinary field of memory studies seeks to understand symbolic expressions social-group identity over time, the interplay of social behavior and cultural texts, and the emergence of counter-narratives of oppression within broader conversations about nationhood. This essay considers those parallels, and then surveys four recent thematic turns in memory studies—new focuses on social movements, cultural geography, ritual performance, and the cultural aspects of technology—that are strikingly similar to the original interests of American Studies. Such developments highlight the usable past of American Studies, in service of not only other fields but also its own future.


Author Biography

Carolyn Kitch, Temple University

Professor of Journalism
Faculty, Media and Communication Doctoral Program


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