Berlant’s intimate publics and Perreault’s autography can both be seen as stages of memory keeping. But memories carry historical and ideological weight – thus, “memory” is inherently rhetorical and political. Memories of the past are incorporated into the cultural metanarrative of group identity, and these memories shift with time as the metanarrative “recall” adapts the interpretation of these past memories to present circumstances.
The assignment of authority is fundamental to this question of cultural memory. Who is “allowed” to remember? Which individuals hold the mic at the rallies? And then who is knocked to the pavement with a billy club? This, the political economy is financed through the ideological trade in “remembered” experience.
In the creative writing classroom, explicitly addressing the assignation of “memory keeper” status can help students become more critical readers and writers. What details in a work signal genuine knowledge and experience on the part of the writer? To which communities do our students belong? How does one become an “activist” for the experiences of another?