“Memorializing Aesthetics of Past & Future Generations”

American Educational Studies Association,
2005 George Kneller Lecture: Second
Generation Memory and the Phenomenological
Structure of Intergenerational Remembrance
in Ernest Gaines’s Fictional Life-World

DePaul University

It explores how Gaines’s fictional memory reuses the artifacts of past generations of the dead to generate a memorial aesthetic that facilitates an ethic of redemption for present and future generations and their struggle for abetter world.

Imaginative rememberance

Life worlds of time and place

Pastoral literary tradition

Intertwining memories

Dignity to body death amidst social death

What remains?
Generational distance
Second Generation Memory
Normal Morning/meloncholia and self hatred

Continuous engagement

Need a memory
Create cultural memories

Dignify Jefferson and us in facing death

Transcending circles of despair
Oppression does not equal defeat

New views for community’s psychic life
Ongoing open relationship for new ways

Re-presentations for communion of life worlds

Organic familiarity and world of nataural attitudes,
Memory prodeuces familiar, past life worlds for today’s and tomorrows

Intergenertional community of the living, and the yet unborn, with the dead

Remains and intergenerational rememberance

Sacred Water At Gravesite Oferings

The material history of death in the South cannot be separated from the history of African American burial and mourning rituals that surrounded the dead, whichwere very extensive on slave plantations. The dead were honored by the symbolicuse of elaborate grave decorations, which according to archeologists had strong African religious meaning. Many of the “offerings” at gravesites are “associated with water or can be interpreted as water symbols, and include pitchers, tumblers,cups, bottles and sea shells” (Vlach, 1993, 143). Vlach, a slave plantation archeol-ogist, explained the symbolic significance of water imagery in African American cemeteries: “When placed on top of the grave they create an image of a river bot-tom, the environment in African belief under which the realm of the dead is lo-cated” (1993, xxx). A belief of African religions is that ancestors “inhabit villagesof the dead located under river beds or lake bottoms’ (Vlach 1993, 143).

Last edited by James Godsil.   Page last modified on August 09, 2015

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