Picpus cemetery and the rothschild hospital
Using the archives to support national standards for students of french
by Margot M. Steinhart, NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY
 
| Pedagogical Uses of the Archives |

Pedagogical Uses of the Archives

Preparatory activity to use the archives: Brainstorming on Sites or Realms of Memory

Purpose:  To introduce students to the concept of “lieux de mémoire” and to the purpose of this digital archive

 (Pierre Nora edited seven volumes about the loci memoriae of France, entitled Les lieux de mémoire (1984–92)).

  1. Select an example of a place with which all students are familiar, e.g.,: Washington, D.C. 
  2. Ask students to name sites of memory in this location. 
    1. Lincoln Memorial 
    2. Washington Memorial 
    3. Viet-Nam Veterans Memorial 
    4. National World War II Memorial 
    5. Ford Theatre 
    6. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum 
    7. Watergate 
  3. In discussions, consider questions, such as … 
    1. Why do these sites (realms) of memory exist? 
    2. What do they have in common? 
    3. How can a site of memory exist outside of a town, a monument or a building? 
    4. When do we forget certain sites? 
    5. How do we conserve sites of memory, literally and figuratively? 
  4. Reflect on realms of memory that are beyond references to place 
    1. Consider a definition of the concept.
    2.  

      "A lieu de mémoire is any significant entity, whether material or non-material in nature, which by dint of human will or the work of time has become a symbolic element of the memorial heritage of any community (in this case, the French community)" (Nora 1996: XVII)

    3. Note examples.
    4. In other words, sites of memory are "where [cultural] memory crystallizes and secretes itself" (Nora 1989: 7). These include:

      • places, such as archives, museums, cathedrals, palaces, cemeteries, and memorials;
      • concepts and practices such as commemorations, generations, mottos, and all rituals;
      • objects, such as inherited property, commemorative monuments, manuals, emblems, basic texts, and symbols.

In Nora's view, a constructed history replaces true memory. Sites of memory are artificial, and deliberately fabricated. They exist to help us recall the past – which is perhaps necessary in order to make living in the modern world meaningful (Marquard 1986).

This discussion particularly engages the standards of Communication, Connections, and Comparisons:

Communication

Connections

Comparisons

 

| Pedagogical Uses of the Archives |