The University of Iowa

Cultural memory and commemoration the focus of January 24 WorldCanvass

January 3rd, 2014

What do we remember and why? Are the narratives that define us accurate portrayals or manipulations of the historical reality? What do we embellish and what do we purge from our collective memory? Host Joan Kjaer and her guests on WorldCanvass will discuss these questions and more on Friday, January 24, when the topic is cultural memory and commemoration.

The program, which is held before a live audience and taped for later television, radio, and internet distribution, takes place from 5-7 p.m. in the Senate Chamber of the Old Capitol Museum and is free and open to the public.

We all have personal memories and family stories that may or may not be absolutely factual but nonetheless relate the histories we and our ancestors pass down from one generation to the next. Interwoven with individual memories, but also quite distinct from them, are cultural memories belonging to a group or society, telling of a time, a place, and a people who are no longer here but whose imprint remains.

WorldCanvass guests will discuss cultural memory and commemoration from a number of thematic focal points:

*Cultural, collective, and personal memory: what and why do we remember? –Jeff Porter, associate professor, UI Department of English; R. Clifton Spargo, provost’s visiting writer in fiction, UI Department of English, and author of  the novel "Beautiful Fools, The Last Affair of Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald" (2013)

*Music, theater, and cultural memory—Glenn Ehrstine, associate professor, UI Department of German and International Studies; Roberta Marvin, adjunct associate professor, UI International Programs

*The Third Reich and the Holocaust—Elizabeth Heineman, professor and director of graduate studies, UI Department of History

*Alternative histories and counter-memorials—Jen Shook, UI graduate student; Sarah Kanouse, assistant professor, UI School of Art and Art History

WorldCanvass brings together faculty, scholars, students, and community experts to engage in rich, intimate, interdisciplinary conversations on a variety of subjects. The program is produced by International Programs in partnership with the Pentacrest Museums, UITV, and KRUI radio.

UITV distributes the televised series and WorldCanvass is available online at the Public Radio Exchange, the International Programs website (, and as an iTunes podcast.

For more information, visit the WorldCanvass Web page. Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all UI-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to attend this eve, contact Joan Kjaer in advance at or at 319-335-2026.

Read Jeff Porter's commentary for the Iowa City Press-Citizen regarding this topic