Popular Culture and Public Memory in an Imaginal Era

The Northrop Frye Centre Presents:

Popular Culture and Public Memory


Monday, March 21, 2016 at 1:00PM

Popular Culture and Public Memory in an Imaginal Era

Lionizing RoboCop, Star Trek, and Anchorman...

Derek Foster, Brock University
Northrop Frye Centre (VC102), Old Victoria College Building
(91 Charles Street West)

Following Kenneth Burke’s proposition that fictional narratives are “equipment for living,” what happens when these same narratives become equipment for remembering? Public memory involves the fashioning of communal understandings of the past in order to serve the needs of the present. Meanwhile, popular culture narratives are typically seen as disposable tools of distraction, entertaining but not edifying texts. However, in a world beset by “memorial mania,” we see statues erected to dystopian crimefighters, towns themed after science fiction narratives, and museum exhibits dedicated to fictional newscasters, to name just a few examples of popular culture commemoration. This talk offers an explanation for why we’re seeing these and what they might represent.

Derek Foster is Associate Professor of Communication Studies in the Department of Communication, Popular Culture, & Film at Brock University. He is the incoming Director of Canada’s only graduate program in Popular Culture and the President of the Popular Culture Association of Canada. As a rhetorical critic, his research focuses on public discourses and the visual and material rhetoric of commemoration.