About this course

A man wakes in a motel room with only tattoos, some polaroid photos and scribbled notes to tell him where he is and why he is there. A woman, languishing in prison, struggles to recall the events that led to the murder of which she is convicted. A South American town is visited by a strange plague: no one can sleep; people begin to forget how to do the simplest things. These episodes, taken from texts and movies studied on the course, hint at the preoccupation with memory and amnesia that characterises much modern and post-modern writing.

Using theories of memory ancient and modern, we will trace this preoccupation back through a number of twenty-first century films – such as Christopher Nolan’s Memento and Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – to literary works by Samuel Beckett, Penelope Lively, Jorge Luis Borges, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Petina Gappah and Kurt Vonnegut. We will also consider essays by leading writers on the subjects of individual and collective memory, time and time travel, such as Toni Morrison, Frances A Yates, James Gleick and Catherine Hall.

A field trip takes us to London, to see plays and films connected with the course.


Subject Areas

Check with your home institution for specific information on fulfillment of major / course requirements.