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Remembering as Citizens: Rhetoric, Memory, and Citizenship

Bradford Vivian and Carole Blair

Remembering as Citizens: Rhetoric, Memory, and Citizenship 

Bradford Vivian, Syracuse University
Carole Blair, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 

This workshop will explore intersections between the rhetoric of public memory and the practice of contemporary citizenship.  The topic of memory in rhetorical literature historically was explicitly connected to activities of citizenship.  Yet modern rhetorical scholarship on memory exhibits infrequent examinations of practical or substantive intersections between rituals of public remembrance and the performance of present-day citizenship.   The profound political significance of public memory in late modernity justifies the need to more closely examine intersections between the topoi memory and citizenship.  To function as a political agent in our time, one might say, is to consciously speak, argue, or debate in fidelity to a politically-charged historical tradition or strategic interpretation of the past (i.e., to remember as such).  Thus, the central aim of our workshop will be to analyze how the resources of public memory provide rhetorical tools of contemporary citizenship—or conversely, how civic actors pursue political, legal, and moral agendas via omnipresent concerns over the need to learn the lessons of the past evident throughout contemporary liberal-democratic society.

Questions? Contact Bradford Vivian, bjvivian@syr.edu

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