Memory and the Creative Mind Home Page

Before you start complaining about how much you hate to read... think about what such a statement says about you.  Better yet, take a look at Anna Quindlen's How Reading Changed my Life.  (It's short.  It's at our library - so you can borrow it for free.)  Maybe you don't hate to read...  maybe you've been reading the wrong works!

This course was developed by Jill Kinkade of our English department.  Below are many of her thoughts, mixed with some of mine. 

What I hope to accomplish from teaching the course “Memory and the Creative Mind” is to give you a new way of seeing the world.  I want you to make sense of the creative mind by looking at twentieth century writers and see how they made literature out of their own experiences.  We will be explaining how they made fiction from their memories, and what their philosophy on writing was.  We will also read a variety of psychological interpretations of memory, including Freud, Alan Baddeley, Elizabeth Loftus.  What we remember depends upon what we pay attention to.

             Students will gain a critical eye toward perception and memory.  We will have a clearer picture of how people can remember the same event differently.  This will help us as jurors, family members, co-workers and citizens.  The course will enable students to look at all writing, including history, as subjective. Critical thinking skills will be enhanced by the close examination of memory in a social context.

 The course reinforces many of the goals and objectives of the University Core Curriculum.  These include: the development of critical thinking and research skills; understanding individual development or social behavior; the improvement of written and oral communication; the interaction with ethical issues; responding to the arts; and more.

Using psychological interpretations of the mind and memory, we will also be exploring (by reading, writing, talking about, researching) literature.  We will be studying philosophical interpretations of memory. The course will also make use of sociological information regarding the reliability of witnesses and witness testimony.  With a certain increased speed of images flashing before us, has our attention span decreased?  What are we focusing on?  And are we remembering it?  The course will ask and attempt answers to such questions.  With the increased incidence of Alzheimer’s disease, memory is a valuable gift in today’s society.  Students will examine and analyze what has been termed “the repressed memory debate.”  From childhood trauma, to the courtroom, to geriatric mental health, memory is of extreme importance in contemporary life.  

We will look at how memory works.  We will look at perception and attention and how the human mind is influenced by memory.  Much of who we are—our identity—is dependent upon our memories.  People are living longer, so more are afflicted with dementia.  Society in the 1980’s and 1990’s has become more open to conversations such as topics regarding childhood sexual abuse. With this openness, a subsequent increase in accusations has occurred.  How reliable are memories of childhood?  Factors influencing problems of contemporary life will be looked at from many angles.

Texts covered.

With all this in mind, here are the requirements.
1 15-20 page research paper                                                       20%
10 two page reading responses                                                   50%
1 presentation on an aspect or theory of memory (20 minutes)      5%
Participation                                                                              15%
Portfolio (a collection of all your work for the semester)               10%

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Last modified: April 6,  2009

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