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Mod C

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How has your study of the elective 'History and Memory' shaped your understanding of the concept of Representation?

In your response, make close reference to your core text and TWO texts of your own choosing.

The common misconception is that history and memory pose a sharp dichotomy between the two forces of representation. However both are subjected to alterations, bias and contention. The pathos-evoking nature of memory strengthens its ability in representing the past rather than the clinical approach of history. However the co-dependence between these two tools of representation provides its equal strength in validity. My understanding of the roles of history and memory is further shaped by Mark Baker's novel The Fiftieth Gate (1997), Wilfred Owen's poem Dulce et Decorum est (1918) and Jonathon Jone's feature article Too Many Memories? (2007)

The Fiftieth Gate follows author, Mark Baker, as he relinquishes his primal affirmation for traditional historiography and uses the nature of memory to represent and piece together his parent's experience in the Holocaust. Whilst his father had the fortune to have his memories in the notorious camps of Auschwitz and Buchenwald preserved in the historical archives, his mother, Genia's history represents that of a "'lone survivor''. Without the historical ruminations to support her history, Baker is forced to reassess his notions of representation. His novel continually questions ''Does history remember more than memory?'' in the process of perpetrating representation.

The novel begins with ''It begins in darkness before the first fragment of light illuminates the memory.'' The line seeks an attempt to describe the elusive, tenuous nature of memory. This is further reiterated when Baker uses historical records to stimulate his father, Yossl's ''fragmented'' memory. Yossl seems to talk about the past without ''seeming consciousness of its pastness''. He can remember the condition in Buchenwald, the ''walk, walk, walk'' of the long march and his friends. But Baker is devastated that the precarious nature of memory cannot recall all events accurately. Despite the tenacity and the thought provoking nature of memory in galvanising positives of representation; it nevertheless remains a tool of weakness.

However Baker's reverence for history becomes compromised when he uncovers its weaker unfactual aspects of its nature. His precedence to facts, figures and books become literally ''strewn all over the floor...dismembered'' as his father directs him to past records that have written his birthday wrong. Our society's uncompromising acceptance of ''fecks'' as Yossl ridicules, should not take its coronial pedestal in conveying representations.

Finally Baker discovers that the significance of memory must be used as a tool in conjunction with other realms to convey a more accurate depiction and representation. He concedes that his mother's memorial are 'accurate' and admits as a historian he only ''recognised lists and deaths and not the pleas of a survivor''/ His mother's perfect recital of the Lord's Prayer validates her memories for her Jewish upbringing would no have permitted her to have learnt it. Baker's reconciled journey of learning and analysis of these two concepts becomes reflected in his novel's structure as a token to his enlightenment. The novel's fragmented structure mimics the precarious nature of memory, but also shows his high regard for it in representation.

The inclusion of imaginative recreations of historical events seen in the gas chambers of Auschwitz, his inclusion of poetry, images, personal digressions and memories results in the book's plethora of concepts to convey experience. However, in all of Baker's enlightenment, he fairly warns readers that the novel is ''only my version of history''.

Whilst the co dependence of history and memory has resulted in Baker's novel, Wilfred Owen's poem ¬Dulce et Decorum est... (1918) shows how an individual memory of their war experience can destabilise accepted historical representations of Britain's triumphs. The poem is used to illustrate the horrors and tragic consequences of war, but also illustrates the power of emotions in memory to represent which the static fails to do.

The poem begins with the young troops described as ''bent back double coughing like hags''. The alliteration and simile shattering the romanticised representation of history. The

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