Event Title

Not Worth the Memory: The War Between Collective and Private Memory*

Major

English

Faculty Mentor

Katie Simon

Keywords

coplac, memory, war

Abstract

In this paper, I address the conception of public and private memory, and the struggle between these two types of memory as found within the specific community described in Toni Morrison's Beloved. Her description of the post-slavery landscape and community of Cincinnati moves beyond a singular depiction of the post-slavery world. Throughout my paper, I explore Morrison's use of the past to explore the friction that arises from the dual forces of forgetting and remembering, and the impact that these forces have specifically within the aforementioned community. I argue that Morrison uses these dual forces to encourage her audience to allow memory into the public vernacular as a vehicle towards acceptance of painful memories. Within the paper, I explore how Morrison uses the figures of Beloved herself and of the home, Bluestone 124, as symbols of the conflicts that arise between public, collective memories, and personal memories. I examine how Bluestone 124 stands as a structure of ideas, acting as its own character. The home stands as a negative public monument to the community of Cincinnati but also absorbs the memories of Sethe and Denver. Furthermore, I examine the presence of the ghost figure of Beloved the physical manifestation of the collective memory that the town has consistently feared. This paper focuses on the conflict that arises when these personal phantoms and objects gain significance to the community, and how the holders navigate the conversations that occur when merging personal memories with communal memories.

Session Name:

Memory: An Interdisciplinary Discussion

Start Date

10-4-2015 2:30 PM

End Date

10-4-2015 3:30 PM

Location

HSB 202

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Apr 10th, 2:30 PM Apr 10th, 3:30 PM

Not Worth the Memory: The War Between Collective and Private Memory*

HSB 202

In this paper, I address the conception of public and private memory, and the struggle between these two types of memory as found within the specific community described in Toni Morrison's Beloved. Her description of the post-slavery landscape and community of Cincinnati moves beyond a singular depiction of the post-slavery world. Throughout my paper, I explore Morrison's use of the past to explore the friction that arises from the dual forces of forgetting and remembering, and the impact that these forces have specifically within the aforementioned community. I argue that Morrison uses these dual forces to encourage her audience to allow memory into the public vernacular as a vehicle towards acceptance of painful memories. Within the paper, I explore how Morrison uses the figures of Beloved herself and of the home, Bluestone 124, as symbols of the conflicts that arise between public, collective memories, and personal memories. I examine how Bluestone 124 stands as a structure of ideas, acting as its own character. The home stands as a negative public monument to the community of Cincinnati but also absorbs the memories of Sethe and Denver. Furthermore, I examine the presence of the ghost figure of Beloved the physical manifestation of the collective memory that the town has consistently feared. This paper focuses on the conflict that arises when these personal phantoms and objects gain significance to the community, and how the holders navigate the conversations that occur when merging personal memories with communal memories.