Narrative, Myth and Cultural Memory - SO621

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
Spring 6 15 (7.5) DR D Nettleingham checkmark-circle


This module combines theoretical and methodological approaches from sociology, cultural and media studies, history and literature to examine how our understandings of the past, present and future are formed, framed, mediated and remediated in a variety of social, cultural and political contexts. It aims to introduce students to key themes and issues related to the social experience of time. It will encourage them to reflect on how this experience informs our approaches to social problems, relationships of power and inequality, and the formation of collective identities. Over the course of the term, we will debate and critically explore the roles of heritage, nostalgia, the imagination, narrative and imagery at the heart of both processes of social change and cultural continuity. We will question what it is that forms the constitutive narrative of a cultural identity, its foundations, expression and trajectory. We will also examine the material and symbolic construction of social groups such as generations, classes and communities.


This module appears in the following module collections.

Contact hours

1 hour lecture per week 1 hour seminar per week

Method of assessment

100% coursework: 1 x essay preparation assignment of 1,000 words (20%) – due Spring Term; 1 x essay of 4,000 words (70%) – due early Summer Term; class participation (10%).

Indicative reading

Andrews, M. (2000) Lines of Narrative. Routledge.
Barthes, R. (1972) Mythologies. Jonathan Cape.
Baudrillard, J. (1983) Simulations. Semiotext(e).
Boym, S. (2001) The Future of Nostalgia. Basic Books.
Cowie, J. and J. Heathcott (2003) Beyond the Ruins: the Meanings of Deindustrialisation. ILR Press.
Dicks, B. (2000) Heritage, Place and Community. University of Wales Press.
Edmunds, J. and B.S. Turner (2002) Generations, Culture and Society. Open University Press.
Erll, A. and A. Rigney (2009) Mediation, Remediation and the Dynamics of Cultural Memory. DeGruyter & Co.
Levitas, R. (2013) Utopia as Method: The Imaginary Reconstitution of Society. Palgrave Macmillan.
Macdonald, S. (2013) Memorylands: Heritage and Identity in Europe Today. Routledge.
Misztal, B.A. (2003) Theories of Social Remembering. Open University Press.
Rieff, D. (2016) In Praise of Forgetting: Historical Memory and its Ironies. Yale University Press.
Russo, J. and S.L. Linkon (2005) New Working-class Studies. ILR Press.
Samuel, R. (1994) Theatres of Memory, Volume 1: Past and Present in Contemporary Culture. Verso.
Smith, L. (2006) Uses of Heritage. Routledge.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of the module, students will be able to:
• Use cultural, sociological, historical and media theories and approaches to discuss and debate the study of personal and collective memory, and the social experience of time.
• Critically approach and analyse key debates surrounding the ideas, practices and institutions of cultural heritage.
• Develop a critical understanding of processes of mediation and remediation in the narrative construction of personal and collective identities.
• Relate the concepts and practices of heritage, memory, narrative construction and imagination to wider sociological issues of inequality, power and identity.
• Contextualise specific cultural texts and practices within a variety of social, cultural, historical and political frameworks.


  1. Credit level 6. Higher level module usually taken in Stage 3 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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