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Handbooks Courses Units

HYM4200 - History and memory: oral history, life stories and commemoration

12 points, SCA Band 1, 0.250 EFTSL

Postgraduate Faculty of Arts

Leader: Bain Attwood


Clayton Second semester 2008 (Day)


This unit introduces the theoretical and conceptual frameworks deployed in the analysis of various forms of history that involve memory. In particular it considers oral history, life stories and autobiography, and commemoration, and explores the relationship between these forms of memory and history. Specific topics include oral history and social history, private and public memory, myth and history, war and remembrance, popular memory and nostalgia, psychoanalysis and history, memory and collective identity, and trauma and memory.


This subject aims to:

  1. Introduce key conceptual and theoretical issues in the relationship between memory and the writing of history.

  1. Introduce students to a range of past and present 'memory-work' particularly as it relates to the development of shared understandings of the past, including the production of oral histories and life stories and various forms of public and private commemoration.

  1. Provide students interested in exploring research tools such as oral history or life story reconstruction with a coherent and thorough grounding in the relevant historical scholarship and critical literature.

  1. Introduce students to key questions about the ethical dimensions involved in producing and using various forms of memory as historical evidence.

  1. Provide supervised practical experience in research techniques involving the use of memory in the writing of history.


Historiographical essay (3000 words): 30%
Research essay (6000 words): 70%

Contact hours

2-hour seminar per week


HSY4210, HYM5200

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