The University of Portsmouth is one of the leading centres of European Studies in the UK. The MA Memory Cultures is an interdisciplinary course taught by staff who are researchers in the Centre for European and International Research. In the last UK Research assessment Exerscise European Studies at Portsmouth received a grade five (research of international excellence).
The Masters programme at Portsmouth focuses on key issues in the new field of Memory Studies. ‘Memory’ and ‘commemoration’ are now key debates in literature and the arts, cultural studies, architecture, heritage studies, and European Studies with a real impact on educational agendas, policy making and government-funded research programmes. This Masters programme examines ways in which our culture utilises processes of remembering and forgetting to construct national and ethnic identities and respond to political issues.
The programme is designed to examine the concept and practice of ‘memory’ in influential ‘memory cultures’ addressing issues of historical and ethical responsibility, aesthetic representation of memory in literature and film, memory and national identity, war and memory, architecture and memory, and language and memory. We offer specialisation along a postcolonial, war studies or European studies route. Students have the opportunity of further specialisation via independent projects, through links with other MAs in the Humanities and through research for a substantial dissertation project.
The course includes study of philosophical and psychoanalytic discourses of memory before bringing them into dialogue with literary and historical texts and contexts. It provides designated postgraduate research training and offers an optional placement at a museum, archive or heritage site where students can ‘test’ intellectual discourses on memory against local practices and politics of institutionalised commemoration. Students with relevant work experience are encouraged to incorporate this into their study.
All students will be part of the University’s Centre for European and International Research and join its Memory Cultures research group [link to research cluster] which hosts regular events, seminars and talks by national and international experts.
The course at Portsmouth adopts a multi-disciplinary approach to the study of memory. You will study themes such as memory and conflict; the politics of memory and forgetting; the representation of memory in landscape, literature and film; Holocaust memory; migration and memory; colonial and postcolonial memory. The course offers you a firm grounding in philosophical and psychoanalytical theories of memory from Nietzsche, Benjamin, Halbwachs, Bergson, Nora, Agamben and Freud to key current contributors to the debate like Andreas Huyssen, Cathy Caruth, James E. Young, Dominick La Capra, Edward Said, Benedict Anderson, Annette Kuhn, A.C. Grayling and Robert Bevan.
However, unlike some other courses it goes beyond the merely textual manifestations of memory and forgetting in our culture and looks at the politics of memory and at the practice of commemoration in museums, memorial sites, and heritage institutions.
This course is very much informed by current research. Course staff are members of the Centre for European and International Studies Research, which was awarded a top rating of grade five (international quality) in the last Research Assessment Exercise. You will be able to participate alongside other postgraduates in the events run by the Centre such as seminars, lectures, conferences and regular postgraduate study days. You will also be part of the designated research group Memory Cultures and participate in its events
This course includes a wide range of units covering different themes in contemporary Memory Studies. The assessment will allow you to specialise in research areas that particularly interest you.
Two mandatory core units ensure a firm grounding in postgraduate research skills and in historic and current intellectual debates within Memory Studies:
-Humanties Research Skills
-Memory Cultures: Theories and Approaches
Students can then choose between two core units along a Postcolonial or a European Studies route:
-Memory, Empire and Crime
-Memory and Exile in Twentieth-Century Europe
Further options flexibly allow students further specialisation depending on the kind of research focus or breadth they wish to gain. This includes a practical unit in which experience can be obtained through a placement or a project unit utilising work experience facilitating a research-based small-scale project. Subject specific units from history and literary studies offer field work through oral history or online-archival projects on war and memory; invite you to examine postmodern genre narrative and its links to memory studies; or historical legal and literary discourses that still reverberate in the contemporary formation of sexual and gender identities.
Your options are:
-Independent Project (research focused or work-experience based)
-War, Culture and Leisure, 1850-1960
-War, Culture and Society in Twentieth Century Britain: Archives and Analysis
-Body Maps: Deviancy, Regulation and the City
-Metaphysical Detective Fiction
Finally you will undertake a substantial dissertation on a suitable topic of your choice where a designated subject specialist will support and supervise your research.