Memory Development Reaction Paper

Length: 3 pages Sources: 2 Subject: Children Type: Reaction Paper Paper: #37222001 Related Topics: Autobiographical, Nazism, Photography, Childhood Development
Excerpt from Reaction Paper :

¶ … Wang, Q., & Brockmeier, J. (2002). Autobiographical remembering and cultural practice:

Understanding the interplay between memory, self and culture. Culture and Memory, 8(1), 45-64.

Autobiographical memory is a critical component of how an individual defines his or her sense of self in Western culture: the stories we remember and tell ourselves define how we see ourselves as human beings. According to Wang & Brockmeier (2002), not all cultures conceive of memory in such a personal and individualistic fashion: when asked to recollect a memory from childhood, Chinese undergraduates were more inclined to talk about collective experiences (Wang & Brockmeier 2002: 49). A more dependent and less individualistic concept of the self within a culture conspires to create different memories. Memories are not absolute and static, even highly personal ones; they are culturally contextual. Chinese residents even have later recollected memories than their American counterparts. "Personal remembering in these cultures evokes and preserves an important social orientation that serves to engage individuals in ongoing relationships and further reinforces the idea of one's self as an interdependent entity" (Wang & Brockmeier 2002: 52). Memory is not only an intensely subjective process: it also reveals as much about culture as the self.

The U.S.-Chinese cultural differences regarding memory likely lies in the parent-child...


Parents shape the trajectory of their children's recollections. Chinese parents are more apt to shape their children's memories with directive questioning than to permit the children to embellish their recollections and thus "American children frequently provide more event information than do their Chinese peers during family memory-sharing" (Wang & Brockmeier 2002: 56). Once again, this underlines how autobiographical memory is not a cross-cultural construct but something which is shaped by specific, culturally bound forces and which impacts the child's sense of his or her autonomy vs. his or her place in a larger society. For American children, individuality and a unique personal perspective is affirmed in a way it is not in more collectively oriented cultures.

Memory article review:

Fernyhough, C. (2012). The Martha Tapes (chapter 101). Pieces of Light, Kondon, UK: Harper.

"The Martha Tapes" chronicle the times Fernyhough (2012) interviewed his Jewish Lithuanian-born grandmother to gain a better sense of her history and past. Martha suffered persecution as a young woman under the shadow of Nazism, raised many children and grandchildren, and eventually settled into a comfortable life in England. Fernyhough notes that while Martha…

Sources Used in Documents:

Film review: Memento (2000)

Director Christopher Nolan's film Memento (2000) chronicles the struggle of the main protagonist to find the killer of his wife, even though he suffers from a condition which makes it impossible to allow him to form new long-term memories. Over the course of the narrative it becomes clear that he was her killer. But when the private investigator (Teddy) Lenny hired to help him get to the bottom of his wife's death tries to convince him of the truth, Lenny effectively sets a trap for his future self, writing not to trust Teddy on a Polaroid. After forgetting what Teddy told him, Lenny kills Teddy, thus giving him a sense of closure, even though he knows (or at least his past self knew) that this was not the truth.

On one hand, Memento profoundly challenges the notion of memory as something static and real. It takes the genre of a typical mystery movie where the ending usually involves unmasking the true killer and circumvents this, given that the main character is incapable of really knowing the truth because of his condition. Yet there is also the suggestion that despite the absence of a coherent memory, Lenny is still the same person as he was before he lost his memory. His relationship with his wife, at least as recounted by Teddy, seems contentious and broken (the real way his wife died was that she did not believe he had memory loss and asked him to repeatedly inject her with insulin, as she was testing him to see if he would remember that he had done so only a short while ago). Although Lenny may have lost his ability to form new memories, his actions towards both his wife and Teddy indicate a deceitful and self-serving character that is consistent, even though his memories are not.

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