History and Memory

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To what extent has textual form shaped your understanding of history and memory? In your response, make detailed reference to your prescribed text and at least ONE other related text. The textual form of the poetry of Denise Levertov and the recount Pure Torture by Tom Moe has shaped the reader’s understanding of history and memory to a great extent. While history is represented generally as objective, impersonal, factual and static, memory is represented as subjective, personal, fragmented and fluid. Techniques applied by the composers are consistent with forging these representations. A close examination of the texts indicates that history and memory are distinct concepts, but they are also two elements which work together in an interdependent relationship to make a record of truth. A close study of A Letter to Marek about a Photograph shows how history and memory are both distinct entities, but that they work together to create a more complete representation of the truth. The poem provides a representation of the house’s history as static and objective through the adjectives used to describe the physical building: “wooden angles” and “fretted gables”. However, the composer’s memory of the context of the home provides a place filled with anxiety and worry through the use of the pun in “fretted gables”, and the metaphor “ornaments turned on the lathe of humor and trust”. While the physical photograph records in a cumulation of adjectives the “carpentered, unpainted, aging house ... in some white ghetto”, Levertov’s memory records the emotional context of the inhabitants of the house in the personification of the building: “the brooding face of anxiety” and “waking and sleeping”. Thus, one’s understanding of history and memory as two distinct yet interdependent elements in recording the truth has been shaped to a great degree through a close reading of A Letter to Marek about a Photograph. Similarly, in A Time Past Levertov conveys the idea of history and memory...
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