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ERIC Number: EJ824465
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2002-Aug
Pages: 14
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0018-2745
Teaching in Tragedy by Teaching the History of Its Remembrance: Oradour-sur-Glane and American Students in September 2001
Reid, Donald M.
History Teacher, v35 n4 p441-454 Aug 2002
During the Fall term, 2001, the author taught a new course intended to develop a diversity of close reading skills among his students. An integral component of the course involved the exploration of memory and history. As the fate of the syllabus would have it, right after the September attacks he taught Sarah Farmer's "Martyred Village: Commemorating the 1944 Massacre at Oradour-sur-Glane." Farmer's excellent study begins with an account of the murder of 642 men, women and children in the French town of Oradour-sur-Glane (Haute-Vienne) in the Limousin by the SS Das Reich division on June 10, 1944. Soldiers shot males and incinerated their bodies, rounded up women and children and burned them to death in the church, and looted and burnt the town. The radical differences between this massacre and the events of September 11, 2001 encouraged students to situate the event they had just witnessed and experienced in a particular historical context rather than simply grouping the murder of civilians in an ahistorical congeries. But Farmer's text also revealed to students how vital it is to engage with the history of memory in a society where the dismissive "it's history" has made memory all the more important. Whether or not students have experienced a tragedy which they recognize has affected their sense of self and their collective identities, the author has found in other courses that the study of memory in a foreign context, one step removed from that of the students, allows them to develop the skills to explore the world of memory closer to home. In this article, the author lays out briefly the history of the memory of the Oradour-sur-Glane massacre presented so well by Farmer, but with a focus on elements outside the parameters of her account that he found helped students engage in the history of memory. (Contains 33 notes.)
Society for History Education. California State University, Long Beach, 1250 Bellflower Boulevard, Long Beach, CA 90840-1601. Tel: 562-985-2573; Fax: 562-985-5431; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: France