The Art of Memoir

1: We will start practicing identifying some ways of categorizing variables of communication. Think back or refer back to the Havelock reading: what are some variables that surfaced? For instance, we considered and discussed “tradition”, “mimesis”, “hypnosis”, “audience”, “cultural memory” (etc.) as being important for understanding Plato’s strong opposition to poetic performance as a form of communication. Try to identify a few more such variables or categories and list them here.

2: Use a few of the categories you come up with to assess and comment on Yate’s “Art of Memory” reading. For instance, if “tradition” is one of your categories, how does “tradition” pertain to Yate’s commentary on the historic art of memory in communication? Try for 3-5 categories. (300 words)

As the weeks go on, we’ll collect these variables from each reading (and era), and see which ones seem to persist, and which ones drop away. As we move forward through time in the history of communication, you will slowly recognize some categories as always being present, and others as being new and corresponding only to specific innovations in human communication. As we get to the mid-point of the semester, you’ll have your own matrix through which to critically consider communication history in the present, and have some leverage for how you might go about doing your final history project for the course. So, consider this a practice week for identifying categories, and applying them to a new reading. This is probably a new kind of exercise for most of you, so if you find it challenging, great! And don’t worry, we will work on these together.

3: Based on your understanding of Plato’s critique of epic oral poetry, what do you think he would say about communication technology of 2021?

4: We’ve all had the weird experience of being completely immersed in a communication environment– a gripping speech, an engrossing film, an unbelievably good song, a hypnotizing book, etc. In that moment of total immersion, where does a person go? Take a few moments and think about that state of mind, and comment on it. What is that state of total unselfconsciousness?

Readings and passwords:

  1. Havelock, Preface to Plato; password: f.a.moretti
  2. Yates, Frances. The Art of Memory. 1966; password: f.a.moretti

Sample Solution