The Memory Phenomenon as a Time in Historical Scholarship
I contrast the assessment of the state of memory studies by sociologists Jeffrey Olick, Vered Vinitzky-Seroussi, and Daniel Levy in 2011 with that of Pierre Nora in 1984. The comparison provides perspective on the reconfiguration of the memory phenomenon during the interim. Initially conceived as a search for the mnemonic sources of a dissolving modern historiography, the study of collective memory has since become an interdisciplinary venture, for some a “new wave” of scholarship in which historians play only a contributing role. In light of this transition in the venue for the study of memory, I revisit the perspective of five historians who have reflected on the enduring value of the historians’ role vis-à-vis this new milieu of scholarship: Rosenfeld, Farge, Darnton, Yerushalmi, and Ricoeur. I close with a recapitulation of the way in which the interest in memory has influenced our understanding of history.