The failure of memory: Reflections on rhetoric and public remembrance

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37 Scopus citations


The rapid growth of public memory studies in the field of rhetoric suggests the need to reflect upon the ways in which the practices of rhetoric and the notion of memory intersect. In this essay, I trace the intersection between memory and rhetoric back to the works of Plato and Aristotle. These early works suggest that one reason for attending to memory as a concept was the fear of memory's failure, understood not in terms of forgetting but in terms of misremembering, or remembering differently. Rhetoric is implicated in this concern and the present essay suggests ways in which the practice of rhetoric is involved with concerns over memory, recollection, and remembrance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)208-223
Number of pages16
JournalWestern Journal of Communication
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2010


  • Forgetting
  • Misremembering
  • Public Memory
  • Remembrance
  • Rhetoric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication


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