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Faculty Spring 2020: Bradford Vivian

Witness the Children: Atrocity, Tragedy, and Child Victims in U.S. Public Memory

Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences

Witness the Children: Atrocity, Tragedy, and Child Victims in U.S. Public Memory

Children and themes of childhood often receive special emphasis in recent forms of U.S. public remembrance. This claim is especially true for recollections of atrocity or tragedy (such as the Holocaust, the Oklahoma City bombing, the events of September 11, 2001, and U.S. school shootings.) My book project, Witness the Children: Atrocity, Tragedy, and Child Victims in U.S. Public Memory, examines how and why contemporary practices of public memory focus on recollections of child victims in particular. Investigating representative and repeatedly invoked memories of child victims associated with historic traumas from the late twentieth century forward may add substantially to our understanding of how communities derive social, political, and moral meaning from seemingly senseless incidents of violence and loss.