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Morrissey College of Arts and Science

UN549 History and Memory

capstone program

Virginia Reinburg

Associate Professor of History

This is a Capstone course, which means it will help you reflect on your life and work for the past four years, and point toward your life after Boston College. I hope taking this course will encourage you to live reflectively in the larger communities and worlds you inhabit.

The topic of the course is history and memory. Individuals remember, but communities and societies also remember. Memory preserves the past, whether a personal past or a collective one, and makes it available for present use. In this course we will focus on memory as personal recollection, as well as collective memory or history. Readings will include history, memoirs, and first-person accounts. Discussion of readings will engage issues of citizenship and community, vocation/work, spirituality, and relationships.

Tentative Reading List

  • Rebekah Nathan, My Freshman Year: What a Professor Learned by Becoming a Student. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2005.
  • Augustine, Confessions, book 10.
  • Yi-Fu Tuan, Who am I? An Autobiography of Emotion, Mind, and Spirit. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1999.
  • James Carroll, An American Requiem: God, My Father, and the War that Came Between Us. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1996.
  • Etty Hillesum, An Interrupted Life: The Diaries of Etty Hillesum, 1941-43. New York: Pantheon Books, 1981.
  • David W. Blight, Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 2001.
  • Inga Clendinnen, Reading the Holocaust. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1999.
  • Chris Hedges, War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning. PublicAffairs, 2002.
  • Jennifer Lash, On Pilgrimage. New York: Bloomsbury USA, 1991.
  • James Martin, Lourdes Diary: Seven Days at Masabieille, America, vol. 191, no. 3 (August 2, 2004), and vol. 191, no. 4 (August 16, 2004). Chicago: Loyola Press.


  • Students will keep a journal and write at the beginning of every class meeting about the reading or other work for the week.
  • A short essay commenting on college transcript.
  • An interview about vocation and work.
  • An intellectual and moral autobiography, written in stages over the semester.