Who decides what societies remember? Who writes the songs that are passed down from generation to generation? What is the meaning of monuments and how does that meaning develop and change over time? And how does a past event, once overlooked, become incorporated into public memory?

These are some of the questions to be examined in a new undergraduate seminar "How Do Societies Remember," developed collaboratively by The University of New Mexico architectural history professor Eleni Bastéa and history professor Melissa Bokovoy. Students will draw examples from history and literature, art and architecture, music and rituals. Visits to museums, memorial sites, performances and cultural events will enhance students' understanding of the role of memory in shaping our identity and our culture.

The course received a grant by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) "Enduring Questions" program. This program funds new undergraduate courses focusing on fundamental, philosophical questions, such as "is there a just war" or "what is the meaning of friendship?"

Eleni Bastéa and Melissa Bokovoy

Both Bastéa and Bokovoy examine the uses of memory in history and architecture through the perspectives of their disciplines – architecture and history – and through their original research on the history of the Balkans and the Middle East. In preparation for this course, they will review a wide range of new material on literature, ritual, music, and oral history. Their aim is not only to introduce students to the cultural and social constructions of memory across time and space, but also to bring the same questions closer to home, by focusing on cultural memory in New Mexico.

Bokovoy will teach the course for the first time in Spring 2016 (HIST 492 001). Bastéa will teach it as a late-starting Spring 2016 course (ARCH 462/662 008) as part of the 2016 Schloss Dyck summer program in Germany. "How Do Societies Remember" will be offered again in upcoming academic years.

This project marks another example of productive cross-college collaboration, in this case between the School of Architecture and Planning and the College of Arts & Sciences. Eleni Bastéa is Regents' Professor of Architecture (SA&P) and director of the International Studies Institute (A&S). Melissa Bokovoy is professor and chair of the History Department (A&S).