MC436      Half Unit
Mediating the Past

This information is for the 2018/19 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Omar Al-Ghazzi


This course is available on the MSc in Global Media and Communications (LSE and Fudan), MSc in Global Media and Communications (LSE and UCT), MSc in Global Media and Communications (LSE and USC), MSc in Media and Communications, MSc in Media and Communications (Data and Society), MSc in Media and Communications (Media and Communications Governance), MSc in Media and Communications (Research), MSc in Media, Communication and Development, MSc in Politics and Communication and MSc in Strategic Communications. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Week 1 Collective memory & nostalgia

Week 2 History & historiography

Week 3 Colonial, de-colonial & post-colonial time

Week 4 War, trauma & temporality

Week 5 Nationalism & commemoration

Week 6 – Reading Week

Week 7 Collective action, generations & the mobilization of time 

Week 8 Speed, technology & experiences of time

Week 9 Journalism pasts & futures 

Week 10 Social media time

Week 11 Popular culture & the representation of time

Course content

This course starts with the premise that the understanding of the past and the future is socially-constructed, mediated, and shaped by power relations within the present. It critically explores cultural, political and technological issues in relation to the passing of time. It addresses questions such as: How do different kinds of media represent and structure collective notions about time whether in relation to the present, the past or the future? How do power relations shape understandings and experiences of time? How do we learn about history through media and why does that matter? How did the experience of colonialism impact collective understandings of history and national futures? In addressing these questions, this course makes creative connections between various topics in media and communication studies. It introduces students to the field of collective memory, differentiating it from history and historiography. It then considers critical issues within the relation between history, memory and politics, which are colonialism/postcolonialism, trauma, nationalism, and collective action. The second part of the class focuses on the analysis of technology and media in the ways they contribute to the social construction of time. It addresses how privilege and access to technology regulate the speed and slowness of people’s lives. It moves on to exploring how particular media conventions represent temporality, with a focus on news media and social media. The course concludes with a discussion of the social and political significance of popular culture representations of the past and the future. By the end of the course, students will be able to identify key debates in the study of time and temporality, particularly as approached from the disciplinary perspective of communications and media studies.


10 hours of lectures in the LT.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the LT.

Essay 1500 words

Indicative reading

Boym, S. (2008). The future of nostalgia. Basic Books.

Guha, R. (1982). Subaltern studies. Edited by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. Vol. 11. Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Hobsbawm, E., & Ranger, T. (Eds.). (2012). The invention of tradition. Cambridge University Press.

Keightley, E., & Pickering, M. (2012). The Mnemonic Imagination. Palgrave Macmillan, London.

Nora, P. (1989). Between memory and history: Les lieux de mémoire. Representations.

Scott, D. (2013). Omens of adversity: Tragedy, time, memory, justice. Duke University Press.

Sharma, S. (2014). In the meantime: Temporality and cultural politics. Duke University Press.

Trouillot, M. R. (1995). Silencing the past: Power and the production of history. Beacon Press.

Zelizer, B. (1998). Remembering to forget: Holocaust memory through the camera's eye. University of Chicago Press.

Assmann, J., & Czaplicka, J. (1995). Collective memory and cultural identity. New German critique, (65), 125-133.

Chakrabartty, D. (1992). Provincializing Europe: Postcoloniality and the Critique of History.

Cultural Studies, 6(3), 337-357.

Davis, P. G. (2016). Laying Claim: African American Cultural Memory and Southern Identity. University of Alabama Press.

Connerton, P. (2009) How Modernity Forgets. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hung, W. (2005). Remaking Beijing: Tiananmen Square and the Creation of a Political Space. University Of Chicago Press.

Kaun, A., & Stiernstedt, F. (2014). Facebook time: Technological and institutional affordances for media memories. New Media & Society, 16(7), 1154-1168.

Olick, J. K., Vinitzky-Seroussi, V., & Levy, D. (Eds.). (2011). The collective memory reader. Oxford University.

Özyürek, E. (2006). Nostalgia for the Modern: State Secularism and Everyday Politics in Turkey. Duke University Press Books.

McClintock, A., & Robertson, G. (1994). Soft-soaping empire: Commodity racism and imperial advertising (pp. pp-131). London: Routledge.

Mintz, S. W. (1986). Sweetness and power: The place of sugar in modern history. Penguin.

Tenenboim-Weinblatt, K. (2013). Bridging collective memories and public agendas: Toward a theory of mediated prospective memory. Communication Theory, 23(2), 91-111.

Wenzel, J. (2006). Remembering the Past’s Future: Anti-Imperialist Nostalgia and Some Versions of the Third World. Cultural Critique, 62(1), 1–32. doi:10.1353/cul.2006.0011

White, H. (1992). “Historical Emplotment and the Problem of Truth,” in Saul Friedlander (ed.), Probing the Limits of Representation. Harvard University Press, 37-53.


Essay (100%, 3000 words).

Key facts

Department: Media & Communications

Total students 2017/18: Unavailable

Average class size 2017/18: Unavailable

Controlled access 2017/18: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication